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Law Notes Tort Law Notes

Nuisance Notes

Updated Nuisance Notes

Tort Law Notes

Tort Law

Approximately 1070 pages

Tort Law notes fully updated for recent exams at Oxford and Cambridge. These notes cover all the LLB tort law cases and so are perfect for anyone doing an LLB in the UK or a great supplement for those doing LLBs abroad, whether that be in Ireland, Hong Kong or Malaysia (University of London).

These were the best Tort Law notes the director of Oxbridge Notes (an Oxford law graduate) could find after combing through dozens of LLB samples from outstanding law students with the highest results in...

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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

McBride & Bagshaw (5th Edition) 25

Private Nuisance 25

The Rule in Rylands v Fletcher 34

Cases 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


*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


Emanation causing material injury to property


  • Hunter v Canary Wharf: (CoA) deposit of excessive dust on a carpet can amount to physical damage

  • Blue 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


  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

    • Unless there is malice: Hollywood Silver Fox v Emmett

  • Consider characteristics of locality (if applicable)

    • 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.

    • 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).

  • Consider significance of interference with regards to time, duration, regularity and intensity

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

    • 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)

    • 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...

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