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Nuisance

public, injury, action, substantial, direct, plaintiff, court, gas, damage and particular

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NUISANCE is a les-al term signifying an unlawful act or omission which occasions annoyance, damage, or inconvenience to others. Nuisances may either be illegal acts or omissions of legal duties. They are of two kinds- public nuisances which affect all persons, and private nuisances which injure individuals.

Among public nuisartces may be mentioned :—(1) Annoyances and obstructions on highways, public bridges, or navigable rivers, which are occasioned by rendenng the passage inconvenient or dangerous, either actively by actual destruction or by placing dangerous objects thereon or near, or passively by omitting to repair or remove such objects where the law imposed a duty so to do : 02) Noxious processes of trade or manufacture in towns, by reason of the danger to the health of the inhabitants, as in the case of OFFENSIVE TRADES and chemical and ALKALI WORKS : (3) Dis orderly houses, brothels, gaming houses, unlicensed dramatic entertainments, and places opened in contravention of the Lord's Day Observance Act, both on account of the injury they are supposed to cause to public morals and of the danger to the public peace by drawing together dissolute persons : and (4) Polluting water to the prejudice of public health or comfort. It is also a nuisance of this character to permit a house near a highway to continue in a ruinous condition ; to permit a savage bull to go about the public thorough fares; or to sell unwholesome food, or mix injurious ingredients in anything sold and supplied for the food of man. A public nuisance being a detriment to the public at large, no proceedings for its punishment and abatement, other than in a civil court, can be taken by any individual unless he acts on behalf of the public. The remedy then is by way of an indictment or infor mation, and if the person proceeded against is found guilty he may be fined or imprisoned. Upon conviction he can also be ordered to abate the nuisance at his own cost, for the main object of the proceedings is the abatement of the nuisance, and the Court will naturally adapt its judgment to the circumstances of the case. If it is a nuisance which has not caused any material public injury or inconvenience, the sentence can be postponed to afford him an opportunity to remedy it, and having done this his punish ment may be only nominal. In order that an individual may maintain an action for damages and an hiPtliCe1011, in respect of a thing which amounts to a public nuisance, he must be in a position to prove that he thereby suffers a particular damage or injury other and beyond the general injury to the public, and that such damage is direct and substantial. This is the law as affirmed in the case of Benjamin v. ,S"torr. The plaintiff kept a coffee-house in a narrow street near Covent Garden. The defendants carried on a.n exten sive business as auctioneers in the same neighbourhood, having an outlet adjoining the plaintifrs house, where they were constantly loading and un loading goods into and front vans. The vans intercepted the light from the plaAntiffs coffee-shop to such an extent that he was obliged to burn gas nearly all clay, and ace,ess to the shop was obstructed by the horses standing in front of the door, and the stench arising from their frequent staling there rendered the plaintiff's (la elling incommodious and uncomfortable. The

plaintiff having recovered damages the defendants appealed, but unsuccessfully. Mr. Justice Brett, on the hearing of the appeal said that those facts alone in the plaintiffs ca;,e uhich related to the obstruction of' light and air, and the burning of gas constituted "a particular, a direct, and a substantial damage." And " as to the bad smell, that also was a particular injury to the plaintiff, and a direct and substantial one. So if, by reason of ihe access to his premises being obstructed for an unreasonable time and in an unreasonable manner, the plaintiff's customers were prevented from coining to his coffee shop, and he suffered a material diminution of trade, that might be a par ticular, a direct, and a substantial claniag-e." To give a right of action, therefore, the plaintiff must have sustained a substantial injury other than that which is the natural result of the alleged nuisance to any one else; he must be damaged, not to a greater extent merely, but in a different manner. In 1Vinterbottom v. Lord Derby, Ns Hell was an action for obstructing a public way, the plaintiff proved no damage peculiar to himself beyond being delayed on several occasions in passim). along it, and being obliged, in common with every one else who attempteeto use it, either to pursue his journey by a less direct road or remove the obstruction ; and he was held not entitled to niaintain the action. Accordingly no action will lie for merely the non-repair of a highway (Cowley v. Newmarket Board); but one will lie for a dangerous obstruction to a highway if it is brought by an individual who is personally' injured by the obstruction. From the foregoing it will be seen that an action for danuwes for a public nuisance can only safely be taken after careful consideration ofhthe law, and of the facts of the particular case ; and perhaps still greater caution should be observed before taking an action for an injunction. The general principle which guides the interference of the Court by injunction is the same in the case of a public nuisance as in that of a private nuisance, namely, the inadequacy of the legal remedy, by way of daniages, for injury to property. But this general principle is subject to the rule that the Court will interfere by injunction against a public nuisance only in the cases (a) where irreparable injury is threatened, and (b) where there is a continuing injury (Attorney-General v. Sheffield Gas Consumers Co. ; Attorney-General v. Cambridge Consumers Gas 0o.). Thus, for example, the disturbance of the pavement of a town by an unincorporated gas company, without lawful authority, for the purpose of laying down gas-pipes, has been held not to be so serious and important a nuisance as to warrant the Court interfering by injunction to prevent it.

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