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Miller v Jackson [1977] QB 966

By Oxbridge Law TeamUpdated 04/01/2024 07:04

Judgement for the case Miller v Jackson

KEY POINTS

  • The plaintiffs faced a foreseeable risk of harm to themselves and their property due to cricket balls, and the club couldn't ensure accidents wouldn't occur. Thus, the club was found negligent whenever a ball caused damage. Additionally, the repeated disturbance to their property was deemed a legally actionable nuisance.

  • The repeated intrusion of cricket balls onto the residents' properties constituted a legal nuisance.

FACTS

  • A newcomer built or had a house constructed on the border of the cricket ground, which used to be a cattle-grazing field four years prior. The field's transformation into a housing estate led to the newcomer purchasing a house by the cricket ground's edge.

  • Although the open space likely attracted the buyer, they raised concerns about cricket balls landing in their garden or near their house.

JUDGEMENT

  • The court ruled in favour of Miller. Appeal allowed.

COMMENTARY

  • This case underscores the need for a balanced approach to land use and activities that respects the rights of both longstanding and newly arrived residents. It showcases how courts navigate competing interests and apply the principle of reasonableness in determining whether a nuisance exists.

  • It offers valuable insights into how private nuisance law adapts to evolving social dynamics, ensuring the protection of individual property rights while recognizing communal activities that contribute to the overall well-being of a neighbourhood.

ORIGINAL ANALYSIS

  • Plaintiff built a house next to a cricket club, Defendant, and balls kept flying over the fence. 

  • Plaintiff claimed actionable nuisance against Defendant and requested an injunction. 

  • CA found for Defendant, denying Plaintiff’s request for an injunction and granting damages instead, but via three different approaches: 

    • Lord Denning MR said that this was not a nuisance and therefore no injunction would be granted.

    • Cumming Bruce LJ said it was a nuisance, but that no injunction should be granted. 

    • Lane LJ (Denning) said that there was a nuisance and an injunction should be granted. 

Lord Denning MR

  • Lyrical first paragraph extolling the glories of cricket and emphasises that the public interest should take priority over the private interest, so that the right to play cricket takes precedence over Plaintiff’s right to sit in his garden undisturbed.

  • The cricket pitch has not previously been a nuisance (quite the opposite it has been “to the great benefit of the whole community and to the injury of none for 70 years”) and it doesn’t become one just because a house is suddenly built there. 

  • Defendant ought not to have built a house there (Cumming-Bruce uses this point as justification for not allowing an injunction). Damages for harm caused is fair, but injunctions are discretionary and here should not be applied since it is easier for Plaintiff to move than for the cricket club to do so. 

Lane LJ

  • The threat of injury to Plaintiffs is an unreasonable interference with their enjoyment of their property.

  • It is no defence to say that Plaintiffs put themselves in this position by building a house there, as this reasoning was disapproved in Sturges v Bridgman.

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It is true that whether the interference is “unreasonable” (so that nuisance can be established) ought to depend on balancing private and public interests) and this does seem unreasonable interference and hence damages ought to be owed, but, for the reason Lord Denning puts forward (relative ease of moving), an injunction ought not be the solution.

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For Further Study on Miller v Jackson

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1,070 total pages
843 purchased

Tort Law notes fully updated for recent exams at Oxford and Cambridge. ...