Network Rail Ltd v Morris (2004): private nuisance – the test of sensitivity vs foreseeability.

Areas of applicable law: Tort law – Private nuisance  – Foreseeability.

Main arguments in this case: Private nuisance and the test of sensitivity vs foreseeability.

The fact of the case: The Network Rail Ltd, the defendant, installed new electronic singling system for its rail network which caused electromagnetic interference with the claimant’s recording studio which was situated about 80 meters away.  Due to the interference, the claimant lost business and brought an action for nuisance against the defendant.

The issues before the court were if it could assess the case on the basis of sensitivity (to see if the claimant was using sensitive recording equipment which would have been easily affected by ANY similar sort of interference). However, the court did not apply the test as the both parties were using equipment that could be regarded as sensitive (recording studio vs signaling system) and such equipment was becoming more and more common in modern life.

The court decided the case on the basis of reasonableness and asked if it was foreseeable for the defendant to see if the singling equipment would cause such interference with the claimant’s equipment which was 80 meters away. As it was not foreseeable the court decided in favour of the defendant.

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