Q&As

Can a landowner whose field is flooded by water escaping from a neighbour's broken pipes bring a claim in nuisance, despite the Transco case stating that water pipes are not a non-natural use of land?

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Published on LexisPSL on 20/06/2017

The following Property Disputes Q&A provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Can a landowner whose field is flooded by water escaping from a neighbour's broken pipes bring a claim in nuisance, despite the Transco case stating that water pipes are not a non-natural use of land?
  • Private nuisance
  • Rylands v Fletcher

Can a landowner whose field is flooded by water escaping from a neighbour's broken pipes bring a claim in nuisance, despite the Transco case stating that water pipes are not a non-natural use of land?

Nuisance claims can be broadly categorised into private nuisance (interference with the use/enjoyment of land causing injury), public nuisance (an unlawful act/omission causing widespread harm) and the rule in Rylands v Fletcher (‘non-natural’ activity on the defendant’s land escaping and causing harm).

Private nuisance

In relation to a private nuisance claim, an individual’s conduct only becomes a nuisance when their acts are not confined to their own land and extend to their neighbour’s land. Examples of private nuisance include encroachment upon a neighbour’s land by a tangible thing, such as tree roots or causing physical damage to a neighbour’s land or building. Flooding is a further example of a private nuisance.

When assessing a claim for private nuisance, the court will have regard to:

  1. the nature of the defendant’s interference (intentional, negligent or reckless for instance)

  2. the

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