Nuisance

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Nuisance

When some act is committed by the person resulting in the wrongful interference, discomfort and injury is being suffered by the plaintiff then that can lead to the action for nuisance against such person. Like for example, when X builds his house in such a way that it obstructs the sunlight to pass by Y’s house then that act done by X of the building would amount to Nuisance. It is different from trespass in the sense that in trespass there is direct interference by the person to the other’s property, but in nuisance, the interference is consequential of the act being done by plaintiff.

Therefore, traditionally the term nuisance can be defined as an unreasonable interference with the rights of the public or conduct that interferes with an individual’s use and enjoyment of his land can be termed as a nuisance. It is a very vast concept of law which includes in it many harms and damages being suffered whether it is mental or physical harm caused by tangible or intangible objects. Any wrongful interference, which is the consequence of the act being done, can lead to the offence of a nuisance.

Kinds of Nuisance:

Nuisance can be of two kinds:

1. Public Nuisance:

It refers to the interference done on other property in such a manner that it infringes the right of the public at large. Therefore, it is a criminal offence. Thus, in simple language, it can be said that public nuisance is a crime and is responsible for the interference with the rights of the public and is punishable as an offence[1]. Like for example, where A digs a ditch on the land used by many common people for travelling for their daily use. Then in that situation digging of ditch injures the right of the public, and therefore it can be termed as a public nuisance. 

As in the case of, Dr Ram Raj Singh vs. Babulal[2] in this case, the defendant had created a stone crushingmachine, adjoining the plaintiff’s house. The plaintiff was a medical practitioner, and therefore the dust which the machine generates harms the environment. Moreover, the dust so generated enters the consulting chambers which are being inhaled by the plaintiff itself and also patients. It was held that the plaintiff was able to prove that such activity causes a problem at large and therefore it was a public nuisance. And also, injunction order was being issued to the defendant and also special damages were a given to the plaintiff.

2. Private Nuisance or tort of Nuisance:

Private nuisance is a kind of civil offence and is being filed in a case where there is the interference of rights of the private individual. That is where a person’s right is being infringed or wrongfully interfered with by other. Therefore, if A plays music in such a loud way that it disturbs his nature, then in that condition the neighbour can file suit against A, this is known as a private nuisance.

Public nuisance can also become a private nuisance. But it happens only when there is some harm which ought to have suffered by the public at large but there is some special or huge loss is being suffered by it. Like where the dig was ditched there was a possibility that the general people would face a problem but one specific person was injured in that act, therefore, it can come under civil law court.’

Essentials:

For proving a nuisance, the following essentials are required:

1. Unreasonable interference:

Interference with one’s enjoyment of land can constitute a nuisance, but not every interference so caused by the person can’t constitute a nuisance. Like playing music at normal voice which might disturb a neighbour, but that can’t constitute a nuisance, as everyone has got the freedom to enjoy their own rights of enjoyment. Therefore, interference that causes damage to plaintiff’s property or personal discomfort can constitute a nuisance, provided that such interference should be unreasonable i.e. beyond the limit of their own granted enjoyment right. Like if A has a house by the side of the road, then he can’t have a claim for the inconvenience which is necessarily incidental to the traffic on the roads.However, the reasonability of nuisance varies according to localities. As in the case of Sturges vs. Bridgman[3] the Thesiger LJ said, “what may be the nuisance in Belgrade Square would not be so in Bremondsey.”

As in the case of, Radhey Shyam vs. Gur Prasad[4] the defendant’s alleged to put a permanent injunction to restrain them from installing and running of floor mill industry in the locality, as that would make already noisy locality noisier. Moreover, due to the installation of the machine, the plaintiff would lose their peace because of the rattling noise of the machine and resultant would be an adverse effect on their health. It was held that the installation of the machine would lead to unreasonable interference on the plaintiff’s right and therefore injunction was granted against the defendant.  

2. Interference with enjoyment on use of land:

Interference with the use of land may either lead to the damage or loss to the property itself or injury to the health or comfort of the occupant of the certain property. An unauthorized interference with the use of another property causing him to lose to suffer, whether it be tangible or intangible which may lead to damage of one’s property then in that situation it leads to action for nuisance. Like in the case of St. Helen’s Smelting Co. vs. Tipping[5], here due to the release of fumes from the defendant’s company, plaintiff’s trees and flowers were damaged. It was held that the defendant was liable for the damage being done to the property of others.

Moreover, interference with the property of other causing him discomfort and inconvenience in using the premises can be held him liable for nuisance. But the rule for the same is De minmis non curatlex, i.e. the law does not take account of ordinary matters. There should be interference and inconvenience which is of a serious nature and is causing harm to the property. However, the inconvenience and discomfort do not depend upon the point of view of the plaintiff. The test is based upon how an average man residing in the same locality would consider.  

3. Damage:

For bringing an action against nuisance it is necessary for the plaintiff to prove for the damage being suffered by the plaintiff through the act of the defendant. Like in Fay vs. Prentice[6] there was a cornice being built of defendant house was projected towards the plaintiff’s house. Plaintiff presumed that during rain the water would fall from the defendant’s house to plaintiff’s garden which would damage his property. This was needed to be proved by the plaintiff and therefore the defendant was held liable for the same.

Defences:

There is a number of defences being pleaded before the court. Some of them are recognized by the court, others failed. Recognised ones are as follows:

1. Right to commit to nuisance

To commit an act which would otherwise be considered as an offence for nuisance, if the permission is granted then under that circumstance the act would never be considered a nuisance. For where if a person is farming on a plaintiff’s land for which the plaintiff has not raise any objection then in such circumstances it would be considered that such action has been done under the permission granted by the defendant for which after a long period of time defendant can’t have any claim. The period for legalizing such granted permission is presumed to be 20 years. 

As in the case of Sturges vs. Bridgman[7]here the defendant was a confectioner who had his kitchen in the rear of his house. Till 20 years he has been using the kitchen where its materials like large pestles and mortars were kept and were in continuous use. The noise and vibrations used to come from his house which never disturbed the plaintiff. But when the plaintiff shifted his consulting room to garden then he felt disturbed due to the noise and vibration released from those pestles and mortars. It was held that the plaintiff was liable for nuisance and therefore injunction order was being passed against him. In his defence he pleaded for plaintiff permission being granted as the noise never disturbed him for 20 years but the defence also failed as a nuisance for the same was felt to plaintiff when he shifted his room, therefore, the defence failed.

2. Statutory Authority:

If some act has been committed under the authority given by the statutory authority then under those circumstances that act would not lead to the offence of a nuisance. Like for example, where a railway company authorized by the government to run railway trains on the track, then if in spite of due care taken the sparks from engine set fire to the adjoining property[8] or even if the value of property adjoining to it depreciate by the noise, vibrations, and smoke by the running train then the company won’t be held liable.

Cases:

  • Colls vs. home and Colonial Stores Ltd. (1904) A.C. 179

In this case, a building built by the defendant because of which there was diminished in the amount of light into the room on the ground floor. That room was used as an office where the anyways electric light was anyways needed. It was held that the defendant was not liable because for proving the defendant liable there must be a substantial privation of light.

  • Campbell vs. Paddington Corporation, (1911) 1 K.B. 869

In this case, the plaintiff was the owner of a building from where the funeral procession of King Edward VII was to be passed and can be seen from her place. Therefore she decided to take some money in place of allowing people to sit as see the procession. But one day before the procession the defendant corporation constructed a stand on the highway so as to see the procession from their clearly. And due to this, the plaintiff suffered loss due to the reduction in price because of the obstruction of view. She sued the defendant corporation, contending that the structure on the highway was a public nuisance. It was held that the public nuisance was committed and the plaintiff was entitled to a commission.

  • Ushaben vs. Bhagya Laxmi Chitra Mandir, A.I.R 1978 Guj. 13

In this case, the plaintiff-appellants argued before the court for putting permanent restraining order against the film “Jai Santoshi Maa” as according to her it hurt the religious sentiments as in that film Goddesses Saraswati, Laxmi and Parvati were defined as jealous and were ridiculed. It was held that hurt religious feelings were not an actionable wrong. Moreover, the plaintiff’s were free not to watch the movie again and hence the plaintiff claim against nuisance was not succeeded.

  • Health vs. Mayor of Brighton, (1908) 98 L.T. 718: 24 T.L.R. 414

In this case, there was a suit filed for the order to grant the order of injunction in favour of incumbent and trustees of Brighton Church to restrain a Buzzing noise from defendant’s power station. It was held that the noise was not disturbing any other person other than the incumbent, and neither the noise was of such loud that it distracts other person came to attend church.

Frequently Asked Questions:

  • What is meant by the term nuisance?

 The term nuisance can be defined as an unlawful or unreasonable interference with the right of enjoyment of an individual in such a manner that it substantially leads to inconvenience to the person, then it can amount to a nuisance. Example, the building of a bore well for the personal use of one, which ultimately leads to the disturbance in the water supply to the other person can lead to nuisance, as the act of one leads to interference of right to enjoyment of water supplied to that other, therefore it is a nuisance being caused.  

  • Why is Public Nuisance a crime?

Public nuisance is a criminal offence because it is a wrong done against the public at a large. That is the party to suffer from such harm is not any individual or group of persons but it a public at large who will be suffering from such nuisance if being done. The main aim of the criminal law is to punish the guilty so that others would get a lesson and such harm doesn’t get repeated. And therefore, nuisance occurred against the public i.e. public nuisance is a crime. Example of Public Nuisance can be when there is a wrongful restraint by an individual which is creating inconvenience to the public at large then that individual can be held liable under the criminal law.

  • What the different types of Nuisance?

Nuisance can be of two types’ public and private nuisance. Public nuisance refers to nuisance being committed against the public at large. This type of nuisance is punishable under criminal law as the crimes committed under this type are against the public at large. While private nuisance refers to the interference is committed with the person’s enjoyment of right or land or any other related to it.

  • Is Nuisance a tort?

Nuisance can be tort or crime. Nuisance is tort when it is committed against a single person or group of certain people. Moreover, where the right of enjoyment of property or land has wrongfully interfered with that of other than under such circumstances nuisance of tort is committed.

[References]

[1] Sec 268, I.P.C.

[2] A.I.R. 1983 All. 285.

[3] (1979) 11 Ch. D. 852, at p. 865.

[4] A.I.R. 1978 All. 86.

[5] (1865) 11 H.L. Cas 642: Halsey vs. Esso Petroleum Company Ltd., (1961) 2 All E.R. 145; (1961) 1 W.L.R 683; Wood vs. Conway Corporation, (1914) 2 Ch. 47.

[6] (1854) 1 C.B. 828.

[7] (1879) 11 Ch. D. 852.

[8] Vaughan vs. Taff Vale Rail Co., (1860) 5 H and N.  697.