Private nuisance

Interference with the right to enjoy and use property

Private nuisance

The background

In Network Rail Infrastructure Ltd v Williams and another [2018], the claimants owned properties which adjoined the Defendant’s property. They brought a private nuisance claim against the defendant, Network Rail, stating that Japanese knotweed growing on the defendant’s property had damaged their properties. At first instance, the Court found for the claimants on the basis that the economic loss suffered by the claimants in the reduction in value of their properties was an actionable private nuisance which interfered with their rights to quiet enjoyment.

Network Rail appealed.

 

The decision

The Court of Appeal upheld the decision, dismissing Network Rail’s appeal. However, their reasoning differed.

The Court of Appeal stated that a claim in tort for nuisance had been applied to a claim for pure economic loss, which extended beyond the purpose and scope of such tort. It may be appropriate in certain cases, however, to grant an injunction where the value of the properties is diminished whether or not any physical damage had occurred. The claimants in this case were able to succeed on the basis that Network Rail had caused an unlawful interference with their enjoyment of their properties, as a result of the impairment of their right to use and enjoy them.    

 

Advice and action for landlords

The case issues a warning for landlords and property owners to ensure that their properties are cleared of any matter which may cause a nuisance or interference with the right of a neighbour to use and enjoy a property, or otherwise to cause a reduction in its value. This case provides evidence that the Courts may be minded to award in a claimant’s favour in such instances.

The claimants in this case were able to succeed on the basis that Network Rail had caused an unlawful interference with their enjoyment of their properties, as a result of the impairment of their right to use and enjoy them.

Author

Richard Owen
Richard Owen
Associate

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