'an act or omission which amounts to an unreasonable interference with, disturbance of or annoyance to another person in the exercise of his or her rights'.
injury to the reasonable comfort and convenience of the public or a section of the public. It is a crime. Only the Attorney General can sue for public nuisance, unless someone has suffered 'special' damage.
Generally, the courts have interpreted it as meaning damage which is more serious than suffered by the rest of the general public, to such a degree that it is particular to the person.
Boyd v Great Northern Railway Company
doctor, who was missed an appointment, was believed to suffer pecuniary damages above and beyond that of the general public.
Private Nuisance: interference without lawful justification with a person's use and enjoyment of their property.
Damage in nuisance may consist of...
1. physical injury to land, 2. interference with enjoyment of land or 3. Interference with servitudes (rights to use another's property).
There are other ways in which physical damage to land can be caused:
Pub at top of hill. Property owned by defendants at bottom of hill. When the defendant's property was flooded, the pub had drainage problems. When defendants built on property, the problem got worse. Pub eventually started to flood and physical damage was suffered. Plaintiff sued in nuisance and won, but simply because physical damage was done. Note: you are much more likely to win a nuisance action if you can show there is physical damage to property.
Hanrahan, Merke, Sharpe & Dohme
The facts involved a family who lived near a pharmaceutical company. The plaintiffs claimed damage to their own health, damage to the land and interference with use or enjoyment. If, on the balance of probabilities, a plaintiff can prove physical injury to land or to their health, the case for nuisance is made out. Approved Halpin
If there is proof of causation that a nuisance has caused physical injury, the courts will almost always grant relief. In relation to the interference with the use or enjoyment of land, the courts undertake a balancing exercise: the seriousness of the harm against the normality, usefulness, importance and motivation of the action.
Halpin v Tara Mines
party who asserts that they suffered material damage by reason of a nuisance must prove damage and must establish that the damage was caused by the nuisance. It is no defence to argue that due care was taken, skill and supervision or that the activities are of great public importance.
Interference with the Enjoyment of Land
Personal inconvenience/interference with one's enjoyment, one's quiet, one's personal freedom, anything that decomposes or injuriously affects the senses or the nerves.
There are 2 factors to consider when establish's the utility of the defendant's conduct:
1. Social/Economic utility (not allowed to take public convenience into it at all) 2. Characteristics of the neightbourhood i.e. Zoning of the Area and social history.
Dewar v City & Suburban Racecourse Co
In a quiet English village, it is a nuisance to hold race meetings while people are worshiping. Good example of judicial zoning. When the character is fixed the decision is easy.
O'Kane v Campbell
Shop located on a junction between a busy road and a residential road began to trade 24hours. Social utility is good. There's no malice. Neighbourhood: not clear. There are two zones. In one zone you would expect this noise, in another you wouldn't. Judgement: the shop altered the character of the neighbourhood. So, an injunction was granted, limited the opening hours of the shop.
Molumby v Kearns
Plaintiffs lived on Fosters Avenue, and objected to the noise coming from an industrial estate close by. Plaintiffs claimed that the entrance to the industrial estate had been changed to allow for louder and larger vehicles to come through. The plaintiffs object to the noise, fumes, traffic Social utility is good. There is no malice. Neighbourhood: not exclusively residential. There is a mix between residential and industrial. Judgement: the hours of work were restricted. The nature of the defendants activities was limited also. O'Sullivan J: it's not necessary for the plaintiff to establish legal interest in land over and above being the occupier of the land. However, "occupier" is an elastic term.
Christie v Daley
Malice makes you liable for the nuisance caused. defendant is getting irritated by the music lessons next door. Defendant asked him to stop the noise. Defendant started to make loud noises late at night in revenge. Plaintiff won because the defendant was doing it exclusively for malicious reasons.
Hollywood Silver Fox Farm v Emmet
The defendants own a farm which is bordered on one side to the fox farm. The plaintiff put a sign up saying "Fox Farm", which irritated the defendants who had intended to develop bungalows on their property. Defendant would shoot guns irregularly late at night so that the foxes would miscarry during mating season. Defendant claimed to be shooting rabbits. The court said this was not the case. He was actually trying to avenge his neighbour's actions. So, the courts believe that there is no reasonable use of land.
Mullin v Hynes
Old woman lives on quiet road. A "dance hotel" moves in. There is lots of noise. She gets a partial injunction which requires the hotel owners to limit or reduce the noise to an "objectively reasonable level". She wants to restrain their activities altogether. She says she suffered a lot from the first nuisance to the point where she was rendered neurotic and is now hyper sensitive. The court grants the injunction. They accept it is now down to an objectionably reasonable level, but for her, it is not reasonable. And the reason for this is linked inextricably to the original nuisance. Where the defendant causes a nuisance which brings about a hypersensitive plaintiff, the plaintiff may claim. There is a balance, on one side there is the level of harm suffered.
Patterson v Murphy
Plaintiffs bought a cottage. A quarry moves in. There is physical damage, but also massive interference in enjoyment of land. The court is still reluctant to give an injunction based on the interference of enjoyment. They give it based on the physical damage. The court used the standard of the expected use or enjoyment of an ordinary reasonable person who intended to use the land for agricultural purposes.