Khorasandjian v Bush (1994): Can a lodger bring a case in a private nuisance?

Areas of applicable law: Tort law – Nuisance – Private nuisance

Main argument in this case: A licensee is generally not allowed to bring in a claim in private nuisance.

This case is unique in a way that it allowed a licensee to bring in a claim of nuisance without having a proprietary interest in land. Generally a licensee cannot bring an actionable claim in case of a private nuisance which has been confirmed in various cases of Case Law. Two of such cases that come to mind are Hunter v Canary Wharf 1997 and Malone v Laskey 1907.

The fact of the case:The case involved a girl of 16 years of age and a man who was 21 years old. They had a relationship which later broke down. After the breakup the man became violent towards the girl and on numerous occasions assaulted her as well as threatened to kill her. The girl was living with her parents at their house where the man started to make abusive and threatening phone calls to her. As a consequence, he was imprisoned and fined for the criminal offences that he had committed against the girl. Despite the punishments however, the man continued to make abusive phone calls to the girl and the girl brought a civil action against him. The issue before the court was whether to allow her claim or not. Since she was living with her parents and their house and it was the place where she received the nuisance calls. And to bring a claim against the defendant, she had to have a proprietary interest in land, i.e., be a tenant, occupier or an owner which she was none but merely a lodger.

Despite that she was only a licensee, the court allowed her claim on the grounds that the law had to keep pace with the time. It would serve no justice if the court was unable to stop a person from making pestering and violent calls to a claimant just because the claimant did not have a legal right or proprietary interest in land.

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