Nuisance on highways
Produced in partnership with Nicholas Hancox of Nicholas Hancox Solicitors
Nuisance on highways

The following Planning guidance note Produced in partnership with Nicholas Hancox of Nicholas Hancox Solicitors provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Nuisance on highways
  • Common law and statute law
  • Builders’ works, scaffolding and skips
  • Racing and unsuitable traffic
  • Stationary traffic
  • Bridges and beams across the highway
  • Nuisances from adjoining property

Common law and statute law

In relation to highways, the law of nuisance overlaps considerably with the statutory law (mostly in the Highways Act 1980 (HiA 1980)), but the common law is expressly preserved by HiA 1980, s 333. Pratt and Mackenzie’s Law of Highways (21st edition, 1967) defined a highway nuisance as ‘any wrongful act or omission upon or near a highway, whereby the public are prevented from freely, safely and conveniently passing along the highway’. A nuisance is either:

  1. an actual interference with the public right of way or highway, or

  2. such use of the adjoining land that persons who, deviating from the road while using the highway with ordinary care, may suffer injury from some dangerous structure or excavation on that land

The right of passage extends to the full width of a highway and it is no defence to say that the obstruction is in a part of the highway not normally in use, nor that sufficient space was left for ordinary traffic (R v United Kingdom Electric Telegraph Co (1862) 31 LJ MC 166).

Builders’ works, scaffolding and skips

A permanent obstruction erected on a highway without lawful authority is, if it renders the highway less commodious to the public, an unlawful act and a nuisance at common law. But the erection of temporary

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