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Nuisance (from archaic ''nocence'', through Fr. ''noisance'', ''nuisance'', from Lat. ''nocere'', "to hurt") is a
common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or case law) is the body of law created by judges and similar quasi-judicial tribunals by virtue of being stated in written opinions. ''Black's Law Dictionary'' is the most-us ...
tort A tort, in jurisdiction, is a (other than ) that causes a claimant to suffer loss or harm, resulting in for the person who commits the tortious act. It can include intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligence, financial losses, ...

tort
. It means that which causes offence,
annoyance Annoyance is an unpleasant mental state that is characterized by irritation Irritation, in biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemi ...
, trouble or injury. A nuisance can be either public (also "common") or private. A
public nuisance In English law, English criminal law, public nuisance is a class of common law offence in which the injury, loss, or damage is suffered by the public, in general, rather than an individual, in particular. In Australia In ''Kent v Johnson'' the Su ...
was defined by English scholar Sir J. F. Stephen as,
"an act not warranted by law, or an omission to discharge a legal duty, which act or omission obstructs or causes inconvenience or damage to the public in the exercise of rights common to all Her Majesty's subjects".
''Private nuisance'' is the interference with the right of specific people. Nuisance is one of the oldest
causes of action A cause of action, in law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influenced by its environment, is ...
known to the common law, with cases framed in nuisance going back almost to the beginning of recorded
case law Case law is the collection of past legal decisions written by courts and similar tribunal A tribunal, generally, is any person or institution with authority to judge, adjudicate on, or determine claims or disputes—whether or not it is calle ...
. Nuisance signifies that the "right of quiet enjoyment" is being disrupted to such a degree that a
tort A tort, in jurisdiction, is a (other than ) that causes a claimant to suffer loss or harm, resulting in for the person who commits the tortious act. It can include intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligence, financial losses, ...

tort
is being committed.


Definition

Under the common law, persons in possession of
real property In England, English common law, real property, real estate, realty, or immovable property is land which is the property of some person and all structures (also called Land improvement, improvements or Fixture (property law), fixtures) integr ...
(land owners, lease holders etc.) are entitled to the quiet enjoyment of their lands. However this doesn't include visitors or those who aren't considered to have an interest in the land. If a neighbour interferes with that quiet enjoyment, either by creating smells, sounds,
pollution Pollution is the introduction of s into the natural environment that cause adverse change. Pollution can take the form of any substance (solid, liquid, or gas) or energy (such as radioactivity, heat, sound, or light). s, the components of po ...

pollution
or any other hazard that extends past the boundaries of the property, the affected party may make a claim in nuisance. Legally, the term ''nuisance'' is traditionally used in three ways: # to describe an activity or condition that is harmful or annoying to others (e.g., indecent conduct, a rubbish heap or a smoking chimney) # to describe the harm caused by the before-mentioned activity or condition (e.g., loud noises or objectionable odors) # to describe a legal liability that arises from the combination of the two. However, the "interference" was not the result of a neighbor stealing land or trespassing on the land. Instead, it arose from activities taking place on another person's land that affected the enjoyment of that land. The law of nuisance was created to stop such bothersome activities or conduct when they unreasonably interfered either with the rights of other private landowners (i.e., private nuisance) or with the rights of the general public (i.e.,
public nuisance In English law, English criminal law, public nuisance is a class of common law offence in which the injury, loss, or damage is suffered by the public, in general, rather than an individual, in particular. In Australia In ''Kent v Johnson'' the Su ...
) A public nuisance is an unreasonable interference with the public's right to property. It includes conduct that interferes with public health, safety, peace or convenience. The unreasonableness may be evidenced by statute, or by the nature of the act, including how long, and how bad, the effects of the activity may be. Private nuisance arose out of the action on the case and protects a person’s right to the use and enjoyment of their land. It doesn't include trespass. To be a nuisance, the level of interference must rise above the merely aesthetic. For example: if your neighbour paints their house purple, it may offend you; however, it doesn't rise to the level of nuisance. In most cases, normal uses of a property that can constitute quiet enjoyment cannot be restrained in nuisance either. For example, the sound of a crying baby may be annoying, but it is an expected part of quiet enjoyment of property and does not constitute a nuisance.Nuisance distinguishes between cases where the conduct alleged to be a nuisance has caused material injury to property and the cases where it has caused “sensible personal discomfort”. Any affected property owner has standing to sue for a private nuisance. If a nuisance is widespread enough, but yet has a public purpose, it is often treated at law as a public nuisance. Owners of interests in real property (whether owners, lessors, or holders of an easement or other interest) have standing only to bring private nuisance suits. According to ''Oldham v Lawson'' (where held that the husband has a mere licence and had no title to sue whereas his wife as owner did have title to sue) and some later cases, exclusive possession is necessary to establish a private nuisance case. However, one situation related to transform a private nuisance against land to one against person, this case is no longer considered to be authoritative.


History and legal development

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the law of nuisance became difficult to administer, as competing property uses often posed a nuisance to each other, and the cost of litigation to settle the issue grew prohibitive. As such, most jurisdictions now have a system of
land use planning Land-use planning is the process of regulating the use of land by a central authority. Usually, this is done in an effort to promote more desirable social and environmental outcomes as well as a more efficient use of resources. More specifically, ...
(e.g.
zoning Zoning is a method of urban planning Urban planning, also known as regional planning, town planning, city planning, or rural planning, is a technical and political process that is focused on the development and design of land use and the bu ...
) that describes what activities are acceptable in a given location. Zoning generally overrules nuisance. For example: if a factory is operating in an industrial zone, neighbours in the neighbouring residential zone can't make a claim in nuisance. Jurisdictions without zoning laws essentially leave land use to be determined by the laws concerning nuisance. Similarly, modern environmental laws are an adaptation of the doctrine of nuisance to modern complex societies, in that a person's use of his property may harmfully affect another's property, or person, far from the nuisance activity, and from causes not easily integrated into historic understandings of nuisance law.


Remedies

Under the common law, the only remedy for a nuisance was the payment of
damages At common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or ) is the body of law created by judges and similar quasi-judicial by virtue of being stated in written opinions. ' is the most-used legal dictionary used ...
. However, with the development of the courts of equity, the remedy of an
injunction An injunction is a legal Law is a system of rules created and law enforcement, enforced through social or governmental institutions to regulate behavior,Robertson, ''Crimes against humanity'', 90. with its precise definition a matter of l ...
became available to prevent a defendant from repeating the activity that caused the nuisance, and specifying punishment for
contempt Contempt is a pattern of attitudes and behaviour, often towards an individual or group, but sometimes towards an ideology, which has the characteristics of disgust Disgust ( Middle French: ''desgouster'', from Latin language, Latin ''gust ...
if the defendant is in breach of such an injunction. The
law and economics Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influenced by its environment, is described by its boundaries, ...
movement has been involved in analyzing the most efficient choice of remedies given the circumstances of the nuisance. In '' Boomer v. Atlantic Cement Co.'' a cement plant interfered with a number of neighbors, yet the cost of complying with a full injunction would have been far more than a fair value of the cost to the plaintiffs of continuation. The New York court allowed the cement plant owner to 'purchase' the injunction for a specified amount—the permanent damages. In theory, the permanent damage amount should be the
net present value The net present value (NPV) or net present worth (NPW) applies to a series of cash flows occurring at different times. The present value of a cash flow depends on the interval of time between now and the cash flow. It also depends on the discount ra ...
of all future damages suffered by the plaintiff.


Inspector of Nuisances

An Inspector of Nuisances was the title of an office in several English-speaking jurisdictions. In many jurisdictions this term is now archaic, the position and/or term having been replaced by others. In medieval England it was an office of the Courts Leet and later it was also a parochial office concerned with local action against a wide range of 'nuisances' under the common law: obstructions of the highway, polluted wells, adulterated food, smoke, noise, smelly accumulations, eavesdropping, peeping toms, lewd behaviour, and many others. In the United Kingdom from the mid- 19th century this office became associated with solving public health and sanitation problems, with other types of nuisances being dealt with by the local constables. The first Inspector of Nuisances appointed by a UK local authority Health Committee was
Thomas Fresh Thomas Fresh (3 September 1803 – 3 April 1861) was a pioneer in British environmental health. In 1844, he became Liverpool's first public health officer. Life and career Thomas Fresh was born on 3 September 1803 at the family farm 'Newbarns', i ...
in
Liverpool Liverpool is a City status in the United Kingdom, city and metropolitan borough in Merseyside, England. With a population of in 2019, it is the List of English districts by population, tenth largest English district by population, and its ...

Liverpool
in 1844. Liverpool later promoted a private Act, the Liverpool Sanatory (sic) Act 1846, that created a statutory post of Inspector of Nuisances. This became the precedent for later local and national legislation. In local authorities that had established a Board of Health under the
Public Health Act 1848 Local boards or local boards of health were local authorities in urban areas of England and Wales England and Wales () is a legal jurisdiction covering England and Wales, two of the four countries of the United Kingdom, parts of the United Kingdom. ...
, or under local Acts implementing the Towns Improvement Clauses Act of 1847, the title was 'Inspector of Nuisances'. The Nuisances Removal and Diseases Prevention Act 1855 and the
Metropolis Management Act 1855 The Metropolis Management Act 1855 (18 & 19 Vict. c.120) was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom The Parliament of the United Kingdom is the supreme legislative body A legislature is a deliberative assembly with the authority ...
(via section 134) mandated such an office but with the title of 'Sanitary Inspector'. So in some places the title was 'Sanitary Inspector' and in others 'Inspector of Nuisances'. Eventually the title was standardized across all UK local authorities as 'Sanitary Inspector'. An Act of Parliament in 1956 changed the title to 'Public Health Inspector'. Similar offices were established across the British Commonwealth and Empire. The nearest modern equivalent of this position in the UK is the Environmental Health Officer. This title being adopted by local authorities on the recommendation of Central Government after the
Local Government Act 1972 The Local Government Act 1972 (c. 70) is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom The Parliament of the United Kingdom is the of the , the and the . It alone possesses and thereby ultimate power over all other political bodi ...
. Today, Registered UK Environmental Health Officers working in non-enforcement roles (e.g. in the private sector) may prefer to use the generic term 'Environmental Health Practitioner'. In
New South Wales New South Wales (abbreviated as NSW) is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspape ...
the NSW Public Health Act 1896 gave the NSW Board of Health power to establish 'standards of strength and purity for articles of general consumption', to appoint analysts, and 'to cause to be made such enquiries as it thinks fit in relation to any matters concerning the public health'. Inspectors under the new Act were known as Inspectors of Nuisances, but were later renamed 'sanitary inspectors'. In the United States, a modern example of an officer with the title 'Inspector of Nuisances' but not the public health role is found in Section 3767 of the Ohio Revised Code which defines such a position to investigate nuisances, where this term broadly covers establishments in which lewdness and alcohol are found. Whereas in the United States the environmental health officer role is undertaken by local authority officers with the titles 'Registered Environmental Health Specialist' or 'Registered Sanitarian' depending on the jurisdiction.


Law related to nuisance, by country


England

The boundaries of the
tort A tort, in jurisdiction, is a (other than ) that causes a claimant to suffer loss or harm, resulting in for the person who commits the tortious act. It can include intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligence, financial losses, ...

tort
are potentially unclear, due to the public/private nuisance divide, and existence of the rule in
Rylands v FletcherRylands is an English surname. Notable people with the surname include: * Dadie Rylands (1902–1999), British literary scholar and theatre director * Dave Rylands (born 1953), English footballer * Enriqueta Augustina Rylands (1843–1908), English ...
. Writers such as John Murphy at Lancaster University have popularised the idea that ''Rylands'' forms a separate, though related, tort. This is still an issue for debate, and is rejected by others (the primary distinction in ''Rylands'' concerns 'escapes onto land', and so it may be argued that the only difference is the nature of the ''nuisance'', not the nature of the civil ''wrong''.) Under English law, unlike US law, it is no defence that the claimant "came to the nuisance": the 1879 case of
Sturges v Bridgman ''Sturges v Bridgman'' (1879) LR 11 Ch D 852 is a landmark case in nuisance. It decides that what constitutes reasonable use of one's property depends on the character of the locality and that it is no defence that the plaintiff "came to the n ...
is still good law, and a new owner can bring a claim in nuisance for the existing activities of a neighbour. In February 2014 the UK Supreme Court ruling in the case of Coventry v Lawrence prompted the launch of a campaign to have the "coming to a nuisance" law overturned. Campaigners hold that established lawful activity continuing with planning permission and local residents' support should be accepted as part of the character of the area by any new residents coming to the locality.


United States

Many states have limited instances where a claim of nuisance may be brought. Such limitation often became necessary as the sensibilities of urban dwellers were offended by smells of agricultural waste when they moved to rural locations. For example: many states and provinces have "right to farm" provisions, which allow any agricultural use of land zoned or historically used for
agriculture Agriculture is the science, art and practice of cultivating plants and livestock. Agriculture was the key development in the rise of sedentary Image:Family watching television 1958.jpg, Exercise trends, Increases in sedentary behaviors su ...

agriculture
. There are two classes of nuisance under the American law: a nuisance in fact, or "nuisance per accidens", and a nuisance ''per se''. The classification determines whether the claim goes to the jury, or gets decided by the judge. An alleged nuisance in fact is an issue of fact to be determined by the jury, who will decide whether the thing (or act) in question created a nuisance, by examining its location and surroundings, the manner of its conduct, and other circumstances.City of Sunland Park v. Harris News, Inc., 2005-NMCA-128, 45, 124 P.3d 566, 138 N.M. 58 (citing 58 AM.JUR.2D Nuisances § 21) A determination that something is a nuisance in fact also requires proof of the act and its consequences. By contrast, a nuisance per se is "an activity, or an act, structure, instrument, or occupation which is a nuisance at all times and under any circumstances, regardless of location or surroundings." Liability for a nuisance per se is absolute, and injury to the public is presumed; if its existence is alleged and established by proof, it is also established as a matter of law. Therefore, a judge would decide a nuisance per se, while a jury would decide a nuisance in fact. Most nuisance claims allege a nuisance in fact, for the simple reason that not many actions or structures have been deemed to be nuisances per se. In general, if an act, or use of property, is lawful, or authorized by competent authority, it cannot be a nuisance ''per se''. Rather, the act in question must either be declared by public statute, or by case law, to be a nuisance ''per se''. There are few state or federal statutes or case law declaring actions or structures to be a nuisance in and of themselves. Few activities or structures, in and of themselves and under any and all circumstances, are a nuisance; which is how courts determine whether or not an action or structure is a nuisance ''per se''. Over the last 1000 years, public nuisance has been used by governmental authorities to stop conduct that was considered quasi-criminal because, although not strictly illegal, it was deemed unreasonable in view of its likelihood to injure someone in the general public. Donald Gifford argues that civil liability has always been an "incidental aspect of public nuisance". Traditionally, actionable conduct involved the blocking of a public roadway, the dumping of sewage into a public river or the blasting of a stereo in a public park. To stop this type of conduct, governments sought injunctions either enjoining the activity that caused the nuisance or requiring the responsible party to abate the nuisance. In recent decades, however, governments blurred the lines between public and private nuisance causes of action. William Prosser noted this in 1966 and warned courts and scholars against confusing and merging the substantive laws of the two torts. In some states, his warning went unheeded and some courts and legislatures have created vague and ill-defined definitions to describe what constitutes a public nuisance. For example, Florida's Supreme Court has held that a public nuisance is any thing that causes "annoyance to the community or harm to public health." A contemporary example of a nuisance law in the United States is the Article 40 Bylaw of Amherst, Massachusetts known as the Nuisance House Bylaw. The law is voted on by members of the town at town meetings. The stated purpose of such a law is "In accordance with the Town of Amherst’s Home Rule Authority, and to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the inhabitants of the Town, this bylaw shall permit the Town to impose liability on owners and other responsible persons for the nuisances and harm caused by loud and unruly gatherings on private property and shall discourage the consumption of alcoholic beverages by underage persons at such gatherings." In practice, the law works so that if one member of the neighborhood feels that there is a neighbor's noise level is annoying or excessively loud, that neighbor is instructed to inform the town police so that they can respond to the location of the noise. "The responding officer has some discretion in how to deal with the noise complaint.... When determining the appropriate response, the officer may take many factors into consideration, such as the severity of the noise, the time of day, whether the residents have been warned before, the cooperation of the residents to address the problem." The term is also used less formally in the United States to describe the non-meritorious nature of
frivolous litigation Frivolous litigation is the use of legal processes with apparent disregard for the merit of one's own arguments. It includes presenting an argument with reason to know that it would certainly fail, or acting without a basic level of diligence in ...
. A lawsuit may be described as a "nuisance suit", and a settlement a "nuisance settlement", if the
defendant In court proceedings, a defendant is a person A person (plural people or persons) is a being that has certain capacities or attributes such as reason Reason is the capacity of consciously applying logic by Logical consequence, drawing conclu ...
pays money to the
plaintiff A plaintiff ( Π in legal shorthand) is the party who initiates a lawsuit (also known as an ''action'') before a court. By doing so, the plaintiff seeks a legal remedy. If this search is successful, the court will issue Judgment (law), judgment ...
to drop the case primarily to spare the cost of litigation, rather than because the suit would have a significant likelihood of winning.


Environmental nuisance

In the field of environmental science, there are a number of phenomena which are considered nuisances under the law, including most notably noise, water and light pollution. Moreover there are some issues that are not necessarily legal matters that are termed environmental nuisance; for example, an excess population of insects or other vectors may be termed a "nuisance population" in an ecological sense. In terms of environmental nuisance litigations, it is hard for someone to be successful in this area due to the standing requirements of private and public nuisance. It is the Court's opinion that legislation should regulate this area. Particularly, in Australia, all the jurisdictions have such kind of legislation..


From Britannica 1911

A common nuisance is punishable as a misdemeanour at common law, where no special provision is made by statute. In modern times, many of the old common law nuisances have been the subject of legislation. It's no defence for a master or employer that a nuisance is caused by the acts of his servants, if such acts are within the scope of their employment, even though such acts are done without his knowledge, and contrary to his orders. Nor is it a defence that the nuisance has been in existence for a great length of time, for no lapse of time will legitimate a public nuisance. A private nuisance is an act, or omission, which causes inconvenience or damage to a private person, and is left to be redressed by action. There must be some sensible diminution of these rights affecting the value or convenience of the property. "The real question in all the cases is the question of fact, whether the annoyance is such as materially to interfere with the ordinary comfort of human existence" ( Lord Romilly in '' Crump v. Lambert'' (1867) L.R. 3 Eq. 409). A private nuisance, differing in this respect from a public nuisance, may be legalized by uninterrupted use for twenty years. It used to be thought that, if a man knew there was a nuisance and went and lived near it, he couldn't recover, because, it was said, it is he that goes to the nuisance, and not the nuisance to him. But this has long ceased to be law, as regards both the remedy by damages, and the remedy by injunction. The remedy for a public nuisance is by information, indictment, summary procedure or abatement. An information lies in cases of great public importance, such as the obstruction of a navigable river by piers. In some matters, the law allows the party to take the remedy into his own hands, and to "abate" the nuisance. Thus; if a gate be placed across a highway, any person lawfully using the highway may remove the obstruction, provided that no breach of the peace is caused thereby. The remedy for a private nuisance is by injunction, action for damages or abatement. An action lies in every case for a private nuisance; it also lies where the nuisance is public, provided that the plaintiff can prove that he has sustained some special injury. In such a case, the civil is in addition to the criminal remedy. In abating a private nuisance, care must be taken not to do more damage than is necessary for the removal of the nuisance. In Scotland, there's no recognized distinction between public and private nuisances. The law as to what constitutes a nuisance is substantially the same as in England. A list of statutory nuisances will be found in the
Public Health (Scotland) Act 1867 Public health has been defined as "the science and art of Preventive healthcare, preventing disease”, prolonging life and improving quality of life through organized efforts and informed choices of society, organizations (public and private), ...
, and amending acts. The remedy for nuisance is by interdict, or action.


See also

*
Aldred's Case ''Aldred's Case'' (1610) 9 Co Rep 57b; (1610) 77 ER 816, 558–1774All ER Rep 622, is an English land law and English tort law, tort law case on nuisance. The case can be seen as the birth of the ordinary man having a cause of action in certain ...
* Haslem v. Lockwood *
Law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influenced by its environment, is described by its bounda ...
*
Neglect In the context of caregiving A caregiver is a paid or unpaid member of a person's social network A social network is a social structure made up of a set of social actors (such as individuals or organizations), sets of dyadic ties, and oth ...
*
Public-order crime In criminology Criminology (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning ...
*
Robinson v Kilvert ''Robinson v Kilvert'' (1889) LR 41 ChD 88 is an English tort law case concerning nuisance. It deals with what is sometimes called the issue of a "sensitive claimant". Facts A landlord’s cellar maintained an 80 °F (27 °C) tempera ...
* Rylands v. Fletcher *
Tort law A tort, in common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or case law) is the body of law created by judges and similar quasi-judicial tribunals by virtue of being stated in written opinions. ''Black's Law ...
* William L. Prosser


References

;Attribution *


External links


"Public Nuisance Law"
Essays and articles written by legal experts in the subject of public nuisance law. {{Authority control Tort law Public health ru:Шикана (право)