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Public Nuisances Notes

GDL Law Notes > GDL Tort Law Notes

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A more recent version of these Public Nuisances notes – written by Cambridge/Bpp/College Of Law students – is available here.

The following is a more accessble plain text extract of the PDF sample above, taken from our GDL Tort Law Notes. Due to the challenges of extracting text from PDFs, it will have odd formatting:

Revision: Tort

Public nuisances: 'acts or omissions of the defendant that materially affect the reasonable comfort and convenience of life of a class of Her Majesty's subjects' (Attorney General v PYA Quarries)


More specific definition difficult - Denning: public nuisance ' covers a multitude of sins, great and small' (Southport Corporation v Esso Petroleum)


Public nuisance is a crime but can also sometimes be a tort


Most areas now regulated by statute - e.g. s79 Environmental Protection Act 1990 o

Obstruction of Her Majesty's Highway (most common)- now regulated by highways legislation

'Materially affects comfort and convenience'


Interference must be 'material' - more than just slight/trivial


No need for actual damage - annoyance/irritation can be sufficient


Claimants must show that they have suffered special damage

'Class of Her Majesty's subjects'


Necessary to show that the effect of the nuisance is 'sufficiently widespread': no exact number of people that need to be affected


Depends on the facts of the case: Attorney General v Hastings Corporation - R v Rimmington



Liability can exist for omissions as well as acts - so could be preferable to sue for this rather than negligence

One-off event


CAN be a one-off or isolated event (unlike private)

Need not involve interference with the enjoyment of the land: unlike private nuisance the claimant doesn't need to have an interest in land Examples:


Attorney General of Ontario v Orange - A pop festival 1

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