Belfast Telegraph

Belfast Chinese Consulate claims diplomatic immunity in neighbour's court case extraction fan battle

The Chinese Consulate in Belfast. Pic Google Maps
The Chinese Consulate in Belfast. Pic Google Maps

By Alan Erwin

A man living beside the Chinese Consulate in Belfast has won High Court permission to challenge an alleged failure to take enforcement action over its odour extraction system.

No formal steps have been taken because representatives at the offices are claiming diplomatic immunity.

Brian Derby was granted leave to seek a judicial review of Belfast City Council's stance in a case where his lawyers say he is being plagued by noise from the fan unit.

A judge ruled on Thursday he has established an arguable case that the local authority allegedly misdirected itself over its powers to intervene.

Proceedings centre on an extractor installed last year at the Consulate on the Malone Road in south Belfast.

Mr Derby launched a legal challenge after the Council did not issue an enforcement notice due to the asserted diplomatic immunity.

Amid complexities about whether the system is on Chinese territory, efforts to reach a resolution have continued.

In court Denise Kiley, for the Council, said it has not been granted formal inspection rights.

But she disclosed that officers viewed and took photographs of the unit from a car park.

"It looks like the Consulate may be erecting a house-like structure," the barrister said.

"We have asked for clarification on what exact works are happening and when they commenced."

She acknowledged Mr Derby's frustration, but contended that his case was premature.

It was also confirmed that legal papers served on the Consulate were returned because of the diplomatic immunity issue.

Ronan Lavery QC, for Mr Derby, argued that the first step should have been enforcement action.

"My client is exasperated by this and just wants some kind of progress," he said.

"It's incredibly frustrating there's been so little interaction between the creators of this noise and the council."

Mr Lavery added: "The Consulate haven't even given the Council their plans for how they intend to remedy this noise.

"They say they are going to build a house around the structure, but it's difficult from a lay point of view to see how that will work."

Following submissions Mrs Justice Keegan decided the case should progress to a full judicial review hearing sometime next year.

She said: "It seems to me there's an arguable case and there are some significant enough complexities in it to make me grant leave."

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