Nuisance Notes

Law Notes > Tort Law Notes

This is an extract of our Nuisance document, which we sell as part of our Tort Law Notes collection written by the top tier of Oxford students.

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

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Summary.............................................................................................................................................3
Emanation causing material injury to property................................................................................................3
Emanation causing sensible personal discomfort/loss of amenity value................................................3
Both.....................................................................................................................................................................................4
Encroachment.................................................................................................................................................................4
Obstruction.......................................................................................................................................................................4
Affront................................................................................................................................................................................5
Responsibility..................................................................................................................................................................5
Must the nuisance emanate from D's land for private nuisance?.....................................................5
What is necessary for "authorizing"?............................................................................................................5
What is necessary for "adopting/continuing"?..........................................................................................6
Defences............................................................................................................................................................................6
Damages............................................................................................................................................................................6
Damages in lieu of injunction...................................................................................................................................7
When they should be given................................................................................................................................7
Exemplary damages?...........................................................................................................................................7
Easement to make noise.............................................................................................................................................7
Extent that D's own activity is to be taken into account...............................................................................8
Who Can Sue?.................................................................................................................................................................8
Should wider class of people be allowed to sue?..............................................................................................9
Rylands v Fletcher Liability.......................................................................................................................................9
Rule:............................................................................................................................................................................9
Rationale...................................................................................................................................................................9
Is Rylands v Fletcher a species of private nuisance?............................................................................10
Scope of Liability.................................................................................................................................................10
Defences..................................................................................................................................................................12
Remedies.................................................................................................................................................................12

Commentary....................................................................................................................................12
|
|
|
|
|
|

Gearty, 48 CLJ 214...................................................................................................................................................12
Cross (1995) 111 LQR 445....................................................................................................................................13
AWB Simpson, Leading Cases, (OUP 1995) Chs 7......................................................................................15
Newark, 65 LQR 480...............................................................................................................................................16
*Ogus & Richardson, 36 CLJ 284.......................................................................................................................17
*Lee (2003) 119 LQR 298......................................................................................................................................17

Textbook............................................................................................................................................19
Winfield and Jolowitz (Nuisance).......................................................................................................19
The offences......................................................................................................................................................19
Reasonableness...............................................................................................................................................20
Standard of Liability......................................................................................................................................21
Who can sue?....................................................................................................................................................21
Who can be sued?...........................................................................................................................................21
Defences.............................................................................................................................................................22
Remedy...............................................................................................................................................................22
Winfield and Jolowitz (Rylands v Fletcher)...................................................................................23
THe Principle....................................................................................................................................................23
Requirements...................................................................................................................................................23
Defences.............................................................................................................................................................24
Remoteness.......................................................................................................................................................24
TORT: NUISANCE AND RYLANDS V FLETCHER

Page 1 McBride & Bagshaw (5th Edition)......................................................................................................25
Private Nuisance.............................................................................................................................................25
The Rule in Rylands v Fletcher..................................................................................................................34

Cases...................................................................................................................................................37
Chapter I - PRIVATE NUISANCE........................................................................................................37
| *St Helen's Smelting Co v Tipping (1865) 11 HLC 642............................................................................37
| Bradford Corporation v Pickles [1895] AC 587............................................................................................37
| *Hollywood Silver Fox Farm v Emmett [1936] 2 KB 468.........................................................................38
| Halsey v Esso [1961] 1 WLR 683........................................................................................................................38
| *Hunter v Canary Wharf [1997] AC 655..........................................................................................................38
Robinson v Kilvert (1889).........................................................................................................................................40
Leakey v National Trust (1980).............................................................................................................................41
*Coventry v Lawrence [2014] UKSC 13, [2014] AC 822.............................................................................41
What is Private Nuisance?...............................................................................................................................41
Relevance of Planning Permission................................................................................................................44
| Marcic v Thames Water (2004)...........................................................................................................................47
Nolan, '"A Tort Against Land": Private Nuisance as a Property Tort' in Nolan and Robertson
(eds), Rights and Private Law (2012) 459.........................................................................................................48
| Steel, 'The Locality Principle in Private Nuisance' (2017) 76 CLJ 145...............................................48

A - Who can sue?.............................................................................................................................................48
| *Hunter v Canary Wharf [1997] AC 655..........................................................................................................48

B - Who is liable?.............................................................................................................................................51
| *Sedleigh-Denfield v O'Callaghan [1940] AC 880.......................................................................................51
| *Holbeck Hall Hotel v Scarborough BC [2000] 2 All ER 705..................................................................51

C - Remedies.....................................................................................................................................................51
Damages..............................................................................................................................................................................51
| *Wagon Mound (2) [1967] 1 AC 617.................................................................................................................51
| * Dobson v Thames Water Utilities Ltd. [2009] EWCA Civ 28, [2009] 3 All ER 319.....................52
Injunction............................................................................................................................................................................52
| **Coventry v Lawrence (No 1) [2014] UKSC 13, [2014] 1 AC 822.......................................................52
Andreae v Selfridge [1938] Ch 1;..........................................................................................................................55

Chapter II - THE RULE IN RYLANDS V FLETCHER..................................................................55
*Transco plc v Stockport MBC [2003] UKHL 61, [2004] 2 AC 1..............................................................55
| Bagshaw, 'Rylands Confined' (2004) 120 LQR 388....................................................................................57
| Nolan, 'The Distinctiveness of Rylands v Fletcher' (2005) 121 LQR 421..........................................58

TORT: NUISANCE AND RYLANDS V FLETCHER

Page 2 SUMMARY
EMANATION CAUSING MATERIAL INJURY TO PROPERTY
Examples:Hunter v Canary Wharf: (CoA) deposit of excessive dust on a carpet can amount to physical damageBlue Circles v Ministry of Defence: (CoA) intermingling of plutonium with soil so that it couldn't be removed amounts to property damage

St Helen's Smelting v Tipping: Characteristics of locality is irrelevant because just because the neighbourhood is devoted to manufacturing purposes of a similar kind to D's doesn't mean that it may be carried on with "impunity" resulting in "injury and destruction to" C's property, except where prescriptive right acquired by lengthened use
Consider:

1. Emanation was created/authorized/continued/adopted by the defendant

2. Emanation was from land over which D had sufficient control (analysis required)

3. Emanation caused injury to the property

4. Damage wasn't trivial/hypersensitive (Halsey v Esso)

5. Defences

EMANATION CAUSING SENSIBLE PERSONAL DISCOMFORT/LOSS OF AMENITY
VALUE
St Helen's Smelting v Tipping: Characteristics of locality/established patterns of use relevant to the question of reasonable use
To establish unreasonable interference:Ignore amplification based on hypersensitivity oUnless there is malice: Hollywood Silver Fox v Emmett

Consider characteristics of locality (if applicable)
o

Broad brush categorization (Gaunt v Fynney) or finer distinctions (Adams v Ursell) -
latter preferred in light of Coventry v Lawrence: problematic areas are usually not homogeneous but contain various coexisting patterns of use (Carnwath) and thus
"established patterns of use" is preferable to "character of locality" (Neuberger). This consideration may not be absolute; Lord Loreburn, as quoted by Veale J in Halsey v
Esso, remarked that a person living in a relatively comfortable abode in the manufacturing part of Sheffield may still have a right to complain if a steam-hammer is introduced next door.

o

Planning permission relevant insofar as it doesn't permit the actual nuisance complained of or amount to a nuisance (Neuberger), and where it offers a "benchmark"
on issues such as time where noise is permitted (Carnwath). In exceptional cases
(Gillingham v Medway) planning permission can change character of a locality to make an actionable nuisance innocent but this is very rare (Wheeler v Saunders, Coventry v
Lawrence).

TORT: NUISANCE AND RYLANDS V FLETCHER

Page 3 -Consider significance of interference with regards to time, duration, regularity and intensity o

Rushmer v Polsue, Halsey v Esso: unreasonable to interfere with sleep with excessive noise (remedy: close down plant at night)

o

Sedleigh-Denfield v O'Callaghan: one-off or isolated events can only be actionable if they arise from an underlying state of affairs

Consider reasons for interference (malice, negligence, pursuit of legitimate purpose)
o

Although Bradford v Pickles held that malice didn't render an innocent action actionable, Hollywood Silver Fox v Emmett distinguished the case and held that it was a relevant factor in considering reasonableness. Bradford v Pickles shouldn't be relied on as authority because it could be decided on the alternate ground that C had no right to percolating water (the object obstructed), and even in that case Lord MacNaghten (who decided Emmett), said "He is churlish, selfish and grasping... But where is the malice?",
suggesting that D's conduct did not amount to malice without ruling out the relevance of actions that do, in fact, amount to malice.

BOTH
Robinson v Kilvert: Interference must be so as to materially interfere with the ordinary comfort of human existence, not merely according to elegant or dainty modes of living
Southwark London BC v Tanner: Interferences resulting from acts necessary for the common and ordinary use and occupation of land and houses do not constitute a nuisance as long as they are conveniently doneeg. noise of daily activities (quarrelling, babies...) don't constitute nuisance in flats with thin walls even if they are "intolerable""conveniently done" is an important qualification because if D could put the washing machine elsewhere but chose to put it where walls are thinnest, then it can be actionable

ENCROACHMENTAll encroachments violating boundaries of C's land automatically amount to unreasonable interferenceC needs to show that D is responsible for the interferenceLemmon v Webb: C allowed to cut off protruding branches etc. but can only sue if further damage is caused by the encroachment

OBSTRUCTIONC can only sue if obstruction is related to some right over the land; otherwise can't sue even if the obstruction reduces C's use and enjoyment/causes physical damageBradford v Pickles: (D stopped water that was percolating under his land from continuing onto C's reservoirs out of malice/to persuade C to buy his land/pay him fee) Claim failed because C couldn't prove that he had the right to the water.Hunter v Canary Wharf: Building of Canary Wharf tower blocked Cs' access to television signal. Though in Bridlington v Yorkshire Electricity Board it was held that such interference wasn't nuisance because it constituted a purely recreational facility and not health/physical comfort, HL in Hunter disputed the validity of this reasoning in light of growing social importance of television. However HL held that C had no right to television signals coming from neighbor's land just like he has no right to a view of neighbor's unobstructed field

TORT: NUISANCE AND RYLANDS V FLETCHER

Page 4 --

When will C be able to prove he has a right:
o

Light - prescription (Prescription Act 1832 fixed period of acquisition at 20 years) may give rise to freedom from future obstruction; right to a view can only be negotiated for a restrictive covenant that the other party not build on their land (Lord Blackburn, Dalton v Angus)

o

Air - no general right to receive air/wind that but for obstruction would have come onto
C's land, but where air flows to a defined aperture (eg. ventilator) he may have an easement

o

Water - right to receive water from adjacent stream subject to reasonable use by people upstream (can claim if upstream diverts most of flow/pollutes the water); no right to water like in Bradford v Pickles

However two views in Hunter v Canary Wharf contradict assertion that C must prove violation of right:
o

Cooke: real reason why C wasn't entitled to TV signal was 'give and take' and that neighbors are expected to deal with such interference (however malicious erections for purpose of blocking neighbour's TV signal is actionable like Christie v Davey)

o

Hope (support?): The tower wasn't maliciously constructed in order to interfere with C's reception

Suggests that maliciousness is an alternative for proving rights, however, majority of HL didn't agree and it contradicts Bradford v Pickles

AFFRONTPrincipally used against brothels, pornographic cinemas and sex shopsLaws v Florinplace: residents sought injunction to close down "Victoria Sex and Video
Centre". Held that even if D changed its name knowledge of its trade was enough to amount to interference with use and enjoyment of C's landIAO these claims are rare because C must prove interference was unreasonably judged from
POV of ordinary resident (thus most lawful businesses will be fine even if they cause people to feel uncomfortable)Sometimes dangerous factories (eg. gunpowder) were held to be affront cases before they caused any damage (from fear and anxiety), but this conflicts with principle that C can obtain an injunction to restrain an anticipated tort only when it is highly probable and imminentBirmingham Development v Tyler: CoA held no tort where D's wall was in a state that C
was advised to stop work on his land because it might collapse, because fear of imminent collapse must be "well-founded".

RESPONSIBILITY
MUST THE NUISANCE EMANATE FROM D'S LAND FOR PRIVATE NUISANCE?Hussain v Lancaster CC: D must own the land from which the nuisance emanates; therefore,
harassment carried out in the streets didn't count (CoA)Halsey v Esso: Veale J summarized the difference between private and public nuisance as private nuisance requiring "possession and control of land from which the nuisance proceeds"
(quoting Lord Wright, Sedleigh-Denfield) while public nuisance "can cover a multitude of sins,
great and small" (quoting Lord Denning).

TORT: NUISANCE AND RYLANDS V FLETCHER

Page 5

However in Halsey v Esso Veale J concluded that though the nuisance was on the highway, it was directly connected with the operation of D's land, and therefore constituted private nuisance. Therefore, it seems that some connection with the use of D's land is necessary, so noise emitted from a car will probably not constitute nuisance despite the anomaly that it would create in that noise emitted from a house would.M&B: C's degree of protection shouldn't depend on D's rights over the land from which the nuisance emanates. IMO this is not the current state of the law, and not necessarily desirable -
Coventry v Lawrence held that D didn't have to create the nuisance personally to be held liable
(authorize/continue are enough - suggested that failure to prevent is included); therefore, the property owner will be held liable in nuisance (a tort relating to the land) and there is no need to hold liable those who have no interest in the land. (M&B argue that C should be protected from fire no matter who lit it, but negligence will protect C against the stranger and nuisance against the property owner; if the stranger wasn't negligent and the property owner didn't continue/authorize the fire, then it is unclear why the stranger should be held liable without fault)Further, R v Moore held that D can be held liable for the side effects of an activity (for example, strangers gathering outside D's property to shoot at stray pigeons); thus, there is no need to protect, in nuisance, against Ds who don't have interests in the land.However, in LE Jones v Portsmouth CC Dyson LJ held that the test for liability is not occupation of land but the right to control over the hazard. Thus, the defendant council was held liable in nuisance for damage caused by trees on a highway that they didn't own but were responsible for maintaining

WHAT IS NECESSARY FOR "AUTHORIZING"?Hussain v Lancaster CC: A landlord who is able to evict tenants but do not, are held to have authorized tenants' activitiesHowever, in London BC v Tanner, lord Millett asserted that mere failure to act cannot on its own amount to authorization. This was confirmed in Coventry v Lawrence, which held (but by a slim majority) that a landlord should only be liable where he directly participated in the nuisance or where the nuisance was a "virtual certainty".Thus, the positive action of granting a lease with the inevitable result that a nuisance would be committed is authorization, but Lord Carnwath held in Coventry v Lawrence that knowing nuisance was only "likely" or "foreseeable" did not lead to liability

WHAT IS NECESSARY FOR "ADOPTING/CONTINUING"?Lippiatt v South Gloucestershire CC: an occupier of land is responsible for a state of affairs that he didn't create if he:
o

Continues: knows about the nuisance, fails to take reasonable steps though he had ample time to do so

o

Adopts: makes use of the erection constituting the nuisanceSedleigh-Denfield: Failure to prevent a nuisance that would have been relatively simple and cheap to prevent constitutes nuisance, but difficulties arise when prevention is costly or nuisance is caused by strangers/natural forcesLeakey v National Trust: Megaw LJ in the CoA held that the Sedleigh-Denfield principle applied to potential nuisances caused by nature, even if prevention was costlyHolbeck Hall Hotel v Scarborough BC: CoA held that D is only liable to the extent of the damage that was foreseeable (thus difference between "measured duty of care" and most cases

TORT: NUISANCE AND RYLANDS V FLETCHER

Page 6 of physical damage is that extent of damage matters in the former), and that where the possibility of nuisance was caused by natural forces and D would have gained little from prevention, then reasonableness only required D to inform C of the risk. Stuart-Smith LJ also distinguishes between patent dangers (duty arises where defect is known) and latent dangers
(no need to conduct investigations).

DEFENCES

1. Prescriptive right (Coventry v Lawrence, Angus v Dalton)

2. Coming to a nuisance (except where C converted the use of his land subsequent to D's commencing his activity: Coventry v Lawrence)

3. Necessity (Southport v Esso: Lord Radcliffe said obiter that D could rely on the necessity defence unless his own carelessness brought about the necessity. However lower courts were split: Devlin J - would only be a defence to save human life but not to save one's own property;
Singleton LJ - D could rely on defence unless he was negligent in causing the necessity;
Denning LJ - D must prove the necessity was unavoidable. Further, Andreae v Selfridge:
Bennett J held that the court will not countenance the development of a wide defence of necessity)

4. Statutory authority (Dobson v Thames Water)

5. Wholly unpredictable act of a third party (as long as D didn't continue the nuisance by failure to remedy the situation)
a. Smith v Littlewoods: Lord Mackay - landowner has duty to take reasonable steps to prevent a trespasser acting in a way foreseeable that failure to prevent would likely cause damage to C. However Lord Goff - this duty would only be owed if 1) landowner assumed responsibility to C, 2) or was responsible for controlling the trespasser, 3) or negligently permitted the source of danger, 4) or knew trespasser had created a fire risk b. Mitchell v Glasgow CC: Lord Hope and Roger both agreed with Lord Goff's approach

6. Act of God (wholly unpredictable and uncontrollable natural force, as per Sedleigh-Denfield,
where Lord Maugham said that D couldn't argue rainfall leading to flood was so heavy as to give rise to defence, except if it is "so exceptional in amount that no reasonable man could have anticipated it")

7. C has no title to sue (Hunter v Canary Wharf: only those with sufficient interest in land can sue
-Lord Goff: only those with "right to exclusive possession" (freeholder, tenant in possession,
licensee with exclusive possession, someone in actual possession))

DAMAGESInjunction (prima facie entitlement)Damages (to compensate for foreseeable past interferences - per Wagon Mound II, as endorsed in Cambridge Water)o

Property damage - cost of repair/diminution in value

o

Loss of amenity - degree land was rendered less useful (for the purpose for which it was actually used)

o

Loss consequential to reduction of amenity value of land - recoverable except for consequential physical injury (Hunter v Canary Wharf)

Damages in lieu of injunction (to compensate future interference)

TORT: NUISANCE AND RYLANDS V FLETCHER

Page 7

Buy the full version of these notes or essay plans and more in our Tort Law Notes.

More Tort Law Samples