Private nuisance—general principles
Private nuisance—general principles

The following Environment guidance note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Private nuisance—general principles
  • Private nuisance
  • Making a claim
  • Reasonableness
  • Defences
  • Remedies

Private nuisance

Private nuisance is a tort against land and it is concerned with the unlawful interference with a person's use or enjoyment of land or of some right over or in connection with that land. In contrast with most other torts, nuisance is about protecting proprietary interests (and incidentally the environmental quality of those interests), rather than the control of an individual's conduct. Other nuisance actions include:

  1. public nuisance, see Practice Notes: Public nuisance—general principles and Nuisance—the rule in Rylands v Fletcher

  2. the rule in Rylands v Fletcher (1868) LR 3 HL 330, which is a form of private nuisance and confers a right of action on a claimant who has been damaged by something that the defendant brought on to their land and which then escaped—see Cambridge Water v Eastern Counties Leather. See Practice Note: Common law liability for pollution—nuisance and Rylands v Fletcher

  3. statutory nuisance under part III of the Environmental Protection Act 1990—see Neighbour disputes—noise and nuisance for more on statutory nuisance

The importance of the division of nuisances into public and private lies partly in the difference of the remedies and defences applicable to each, and partly in the fact that a private individual has no right of action in respect of a public nuisance unless they can show that they have sustained some special