Tort - Nuisance


Nuisance Definition

A will have committed the tort of nuisance if he has created, authorised, adopted or continued a state of affairs that has unreasonably interfered with or is unreasonably interfering with either:

  • The use and enjoyment of the land in which B has sufficient interest
  • Some right associated with that land
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Nuisance Definition continued...

  • An inference does not have to involved risk of injury or physical harm to anyone
  • Where the inference does not cause physical damage, the locality of the inference will be considered
  • An amount of give and take is considered, nobody should complain about insubstantial inferences
  • Court balances claimants right to use his land without unreasonable interference vs. The Defendants right to use his land without unreasonable restriction
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Miller v Jackson

'The very essence of private nuisance is the unreasonable use by a man, of his land, to the detriment of his neighbour'

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What rights are protected?

  • Physical damage to property
  • Interference with personal enjoyment of land
  • Interference with commercial interests
  • Right to light
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What rights are NOT protected?

  • Personal Injury
  • Right to a view
  • Right to television reception
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Physical damage to property

  • Vibration damage - Malone v Laskey
  • Roots - Davey v Harrow Corporation
  • Heat damage - Robinson v Kilvert
  • Flood Damage - Sedleigh-Denfield v Callaghan
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Inference with personal enjoyment of the land

  • Unpleasant smells and fumes - St Helens Smelting Co v Tipping
  • Noise - Sturges v Bridgeman
  • Smoke, dust and other emissions - Shelfer v City of London Electric Lighting Co
  • Immoral activity - Laws v Floringplace
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Interference with commercial interests

  • Disruption to business interests - Hollywood Silver Fox Farm v Emmett
  • Electromagnetic interference with electronic business equipment - Network Rail Infrastructure Ltd v Morris
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Right to light

  • Must allow sufficient lighting for ordinary living - Regan v Paul Properties
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Personal Injury

  • Hunter v Canary Wharf
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Right to a view

  • Bland v Moseley
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Right to television reception

  • Hunter v Canary Wharf
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What does the inference have to be?

  • Indirect (Direct would be an intentional tort)
  • Substantial - 'materially interferes with the ordinary confort physically of human existence, not simply elegant or dainty modes or habits of living' - Walter v Selfe
  • To the land/interests in land or use /enjoyment of land
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Who can sue?

  • Only a person with a proprietary interest in, or exclusive possession of the affected land may sue in nuisance - Malon v Laskey (Hunter v Canary Wharf)
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Proprietary interests

  • Ownership of freehold estate - including reversionary interest
  • Leasehold interest - Hunter v Canary Wharf
  • Exclusive occupation - Hunter v Canary Wharf
  • A tenant subject to a possession order who is a tolerated trespasser - Pemberton v Southwark LBC
  • Occupation as a home is NOT enough - Hunter v Canary Wharf
  • Licencesee without exclusive occupation is NOT enough - Malone v Laskey
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Nuisance and Human Rights

  • Incompatible - A.8(1) makes no differentiation between citizens with/without proprietary interest - McKenna v British Aluminium Ltd
  • Instead, test is sufficient and continuous links - Khatun v United Kingdom
  • Individuals denied nuisance action for lack of sufficient proprietary interest in land may be able to claim a remedy against a public authority defendant under HRA 1998 - Dobson v Thames Water Utilities
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Who can be sued?

  • Creator of Nuisance
  • Occupier
  • Vicarious Liability
  • Contractors
  • Acts of Nature
  • Landlord
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Creator of Nuisance

  • Even if no longer in occupation or possession of the land - Hall v Beckenham Corporation
  • Need not have proprietary interest or exclusive possession of the land - Thomas
  • Will NOT be liable where they cannot rectify situation - Cambridge Water Co. v Eastern Counties Leather plc
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  • Liability for guests if occupier knew or ought to have known of the inference and fails to take reasonable steps to control guest - White v Jamieson
  • Liability if occupier knows or ought to have known about a nuisance created by trespassers that he:
  • Adopts for his own purpose - Page Motors Ltd v Epsom v Ewell Borough Council
  • Continues by failing to take steps to stop it - Sedleight-Denfield v O'Callaghan
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  • Occupiers generally not liable for independent contractors
  • Occupier may be liable where he was under a non-delegable duty - Bower v Peate
  • Occupier may be liable where there is a particular foreseeable risk of nuisance
  • Occuier may be liable where contractor is working on the highway and is a danger to users of the highway
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Acts of Nature

  • Occupier liable if he knows or ought to have known about nuisance on land created by an act of nature that he
  • Fails to take reasonable steps to abate - Goldman v Hargrave
  • Additionally tested to consider occupiers cost and inconvenience of abating nuisance - Holbeck Hall Hotel v Scarborough Borough Council
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  • Will not ususally be liable for nuisance on their land - Hussain v Lancaster
  • Landlord can only be liable where there is a positive tort - Southward London Borough Council v Mills
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