Chapter 12 Outline answers to essay questions

Nuisance and Rylands V Fletcher

‘In Hunter v Canary Wharf the House of Lords refused to extend the categories of those who could benefit from the law of nuisance.’


This essay is an opportunity to show your understanding of the nature of the tort of private nuisance: its objectives, strengths, and limitations. Private nuisance has a long history (going back to the ‘assize of nuisance’) as a protection of interests in land, as distinct from interests such as bodily or psychological safety.

In Malone v Laskey it was held that only one with a proprietary or possessory interest in land could sue in nuisance. This was challenged in Khorasandjian v Bush where the Court of Appeal widened the category of claimants to one who had domestic occupation of her parents’ house (the type of claim in Khorasandjian would now be covered by the Protection from Harassment Act 1997). The key case is Hunter v Canary Wharf (a brief outline of the facts and legal issues should be given). Here the House of Lords took a different view and reasserted that only those with an interest in land could sue.

These legal developments are characterized by what has been described as the ‘straightjacket’ approach to torts and the concern that the boundaries between nuisance and negligence are maintained, with the former tied to land and the latter giving wider scope for actions based on physical injury. Good answers will take a position on whether the Hunter position can be maintained in the light of the HRA 1998, particularly art 8.1.