A more recent version of these Torts Of Land 2 Public Nuisance Rylands notes – written by Cambridge/Bpp/College Of Law students – is available here.
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Tort Law : Torts of land 2, Public Nuisance & Rule in Rylands
?????NB: You can have more than one of these torts in the same incident.
Public Nuisance Introduction
?????NB: an unusual tort, because this is normally a crime, but occasionally may also be a tort.
? ?? ? Definition of public nuisances (giving rise to an action in tort), AG v PYA Quarries (1957): o 'acts or omissions of the D that materially affects the reasonable comfort and convenience of a class of Her Majesty's subjects'. o [That case related to dust and vibrations from D's quarry, held to be sufficiently widespread to be a public nuisance.]
? ?? ? Very wide, no specific definition: public nuisance 'covers a multitude of sins, great and small ' (Lord Denning, Southport Corp v Esso Petroleum (1954)).
? ?? ? Area mostly covered by statute: eg pollution, noise, public health measures. Eg s79 Environmental Protection Act 1990.
?????Claims under common law are likely to be rare. Public nuisance now a residual method of dealing with certain interferences that cannot be dealt with by other means, or where an individual wishes to claim common law damages.
? ?? ? R v Rimmington and Goldstein (2006): o Criminal law case. o Held: if there is a claim under statute, then should proceed under statute. o Rare to have a claim in public nuisance at common law. Public nuisance distinguished from private nuisance
?????Public nuisance is primarily a crime.
?????No legal interest in the land required for public nuisance.
?????Can claim for a one-off event in public nuisance.
?????Personal injury and pure economic loss can be claimed in public nuisance.
?????Prescription is not a defence in public nuisance. Structure for claim
?????Who can sue
?????Who can be sued
?????Class of ppl affected
?????C's loss o Must be material 1
o Must be foreseeable o C must suffer special damage
?????Defences Who can sue?
? ?? ? Any individual (no interest in land required, CF private nuisance and Rylands). o But for an individual to sue, they must show they have suffered 'over and above' the rest of the class; or in a way that is different in kind from the rest of the class---see 'special damages' below. o Tate and Lyle v GLC (1983): C was able to recover the cost of dredging the river approach to a jetty it used which had silted up because Ds had built a new ferry terminal, even though C did not own the river affected. o Also Campbell v Paddington Corporation (1911); Lyons & Sons v Gulliver (1914).
? ?? ? Attorney-General (injunction only)---relator action---can take on the action on behalf of class of individuals, a relater action. NO individual will get compensated, but can get injunction. AG may bring the claim where no individual action is possible or forthcoming, in his mane on the class's behalf. o A 'relator', a representative member of the class affected, will ask the AG to act on their behalf. o Gouriet v Union of Post Office Workers (1978): if issue has already been considered by AG, and AG has decided not to initiate proceedings, then an individual cannot bring an action for that nuisance in their own right.
? ?? ? Local authority (injunction only) o A local authority which has suffered particular damage may sue on its own behalf; or, may sue in its own name to protect the inhabitants of its area. o Eg Birmingham CC v Shafi (2008): a local gang committing crimes. Two 18-yr-old members of gang. Who can be sued?
?????Limited case law---case law indicates that the creator of the nuisance;
??? ?or any person who is 'responsible' for the nuisance may be sued (eg a landowner who rents their land to someone whom they knew, or ought to reasonably know, intends to hold an unacceptably loud rave party---R v Shorrock). ).
?????Creator of the nuisance---Thomas v NUM (1986)
?????Actions of trespassers o R v Shorrock (1994)
2 o Owners of field let it out for weekend; the lessees actually used it for an acid house party; noise could be heard from 4 miles away. o Could they sue the owners who had let the land out? Yes. o Because owners ought to have been aware of what the land would be used for, they could have made enquiries. They had knowledge, or should have had knowledge, of what land would be used for ? so the owners could be sued.
?????Actions of wild species: o Wandsworth London BC v Railtrack (2001) o Pigeons were congregating underside of a bridge. Disruption from the pigeon droppings. o Question---were the council to be held responsible for the pigeon droppings? Yes. Because the Council knew it was an issue. Affects a 'class' of Her Majesty's Subjects
?????How many people needed to make a sufficient class?
??? ?NO exact number, depends on facts of case (AG v Hastings; R v Rimmington (2005), HL).
?????AG v PYA Quarries (1957): wont' give a definite number, depends on facts of case.
?????R v Madden (1975): o Court held: not enough people affected to make a class, only
8. ?????CF Jan de Nul v NV Royale Belge o Obstruction on an estuary; very few ppl used the estuary. o But court held: was actionable, there was a sufficient class, even though relatively few people.
?????Class must have suffered a 'common injury' o R v Rimmington and Goldstein (2006) o 538 letters sent out with certain material. o HELD: there were 538 people who each suffered as a result of the letter, but it wasn't a 'common injury' like noise, it was 538 separate individual losses, they were all sitting at home, not a common injury. Can be an omission; and can be a one-off event
?????In public nuisance, as in private nuisance, liability can exist for omissions as well as acts---which may mean it is advantageous to sue in public nuisance rather than negligence where omissions are generally not actionable.
?????One-off event can give rise to public nuisance, unlike private nuisance Losses recoverable
?????Personal injury can be recovered (CF private nuisance and Rylands) 3
o Corby Group v Corby BC (2008) o Toxic materials; women exposed during pregnancy; had given birth to children with birth defects. o HELD: you can claim for PI in public nuisance.
? ?? ? Property damage o Halsey v Esso Petroleum (1961)
? ?? ? Inconvenience o Walsh v Ervin (1952): inconvenience through obstruction of path, even though no financial loss.
? ?? ? Pure economic loss o Where activity is affecting your business. o Rose v Miles (1915): a barge, obstructing C's property; they couldn't get things in for their business, suffered pure economic loss. So a blocked river caused C extra cost in transporting goods across land. Loss is material
? ?? ? Interference must be material = direct and substantial ('materially affects comfort and convenience') o AG v PYA Quarries (1957) o Benjamin v Storr (1871): 'material' means 'direct and substantial'. o Jan de Nul v NV Royale Belge (2000): 'substantial' means 'more than merely trivial' or slight. o NO need for actual damage---annoyance of irritation will be sufficient, as long as 'material' Loss is foreseeable
? ?? ? Type of loss must be foreseeable o Wagon Mound No 2 (1967) o Savage v Fairclough (2000) Special damage
?????Need to show that you have suffered special damages, giving you as an individual a right to a remedy
? ?? ? Origins of requirement---Ricket v Metropolitan Railway (1867): o Requirement that C has to show special damages.
? ?? ? What is meant by 'special damage'?
--either 'above and beyond' rest of class; or different type of loss o Walsh v Ervin (1952) o Rose v Miles (1815): obstruction of canal. C showed they had 'special damage'. o Benjamin v Storr (1871): C showed they had 'special damage' because they lost customers due to the road obstruction. Whereas the rest of class had just suffered inconvenience. So they have suffered pure economic loss, whereas rest of class only inconvenience.
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