Nuisance in law

Nuisance in law is any source of inconvenience or annoyance, but the tort of nuisance has a more restricted scope and not every inconvenience or annoyance is actionable in court.

Therefore in law, what is a nuisance is often subjective, depending on the facts of each case.

Types of nuisance in law

  1. Private nuisance
  2. Public nuisance

Private nuisance

The law of private nuisance is designed to protect the individual owner or occupier of land from substantial interference with his enjoyment thereof.

A private nuisance is any continuous and unreasonable interference with a person’s use of his land, comfort, health, unreasonable use by a person of his land or property to the detriment of his neighbor.

The rationale and origin of private nuisance are quiet different from those of public nuisance. Whereas public nuisance involves injury to the public at large, and the rights of the private individual to receive protection in tort where he can prove particular damage to himself and irrespective of his ownership or occupation of land

In determining whether nuisance, especially, private nuisance have been committed, competent court of law considers one or combination of factors which includes:

  1. Whether there is physical injury or sensible material damages.
  2. Whether there is substantial interference with the use and enjoyment of land.
  3. Unreasonable conduct of the defendant
  4. The malice or motive of the defendant.
  5. The nature of the locality
  6. The utility of the acts of the defendant.
  7. Extra sensitivity of the plaintiff or his property.
  8. Duration of the harm or inconvenience
  9. Prescription or the right to commit the nuisance

Nuisance examples

  1. Obstructing a road and hindering right of passage or travel.
  2. Obstructing right to fresh air.
  3. Selling impure food or drinks.
  4. The running of gambling houses, or brothel.
  5. Dangerous activities carried on or near the highway
  6. The keeping of diseased animal or infested ponds.
  7. Artificial projections onto or over highway.
  8. Loud music.
  9. Factory emitting excessive smoke, fumes, or dirt, and causing discomfort to persons in the locality.
  10. Interference with public safety, health, comfort, convenience, peace etc.
Nuisance law example
  1. Buton V. Winter (1993) 3 All ER 847
  2. Leaky V. National Trust (1980) QB 485 at 515
  3. Neild V. LNWRY (1874) LR 10 Ex4
  4. Colwell V. St. Pancras Borough Council (1904) Ch. 707.
What is nuisance in law of tort

In the words of Knight – Bruce V.C in the case of Walter V. Selfie (1851) 64 ER 849 to 852 nuisance is:

An inconvenience materially interfering with the ordinary comfort physically of human existence, not merely according to elegant or dainty modes and habits of living, but according to plain and sober and simple notion among the English people”.

Remedies to nuisance:

  1. Damages
  2. An injunction to restrain further nuisance
  3. Abatement

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