St Helens Smelting Co v Tipping (1865): Nuisance and locality.

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

Main arguments in this case: One may need to put up with personal discomfort but not with damage to private property when living in an industrial area.

The fact of the case: This case illustrates that when it comes to personal discomfort and nuisance caused by the features of a locality then personal discomfort is something that a person may need to put up with. For example, a person who lives in big city like London would be expected to tolerate some levels of noise pollution compared to living in the country. However, it does not mean that one has to put up with damage to his private property just because he is living in such area.

In the case of St Helens Smelting Co v Tipping (1865), the claimant’s house was situated in an industrial estate and the defendant’s factory emitted fumes that caused harm to the claimant’s trees. The defendant argued that the house was situated in an industrial estate and therefore one would expect the fumes and its consequences to be present in the area.

The court disagreed and held that it did not matter if the property was situated in an industrial estate if damage was caused to private property. The court agreed that when someone is living in an area like the one in this case, then he or she has to tolerate some of the features that locality presents. A person who is living in a big city like London cannot expect the peacefulness and quietness as he or she would have expected in the country. Therefore a person who is living in an industrial area has to put up with the noise and fumes etc. as part of the locality. However, a person does not have to put up with a nuisance that actually causes damage to his private property regardless of the locality.

The claimant was granted an injunction.
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