Supreme Court Judgement – Coventry v Lawrence


The issues raised by this appeal

This appeal raises a number of points in connection with the law of private nuisance, a common law tort. While the law also recognises public nuisance, a common law offence, this appeal is only concerned with private nuisance, so all references hereafter to nuisance are to private nuisance. It should also be mentioned at the outset that the type of nuisance alleged in this case is nuisance in the sense of personal discomfort, in particular nuisance by noise, as opposed to actual injury to the claimant’s property (such as discharge of noxious material or removal of support).

As Lord Goff of Chieveley explained in Hunter v Canary Wharf Ltd [1997] AC 655, 688, “[t]he term ‘nuisance’ is properly applied only to such actionable user of land as interferes with the enjoyment by the plaintiff of rights in land”, quoting from Newark, The Boundaries of Nuisance (1949) 65 LQR 480. See also per Lord Hoffmann at pp 705-707, where he explained that this principle may serve to limit the extent to which a nuisance claim could be based on activities which offended the senses of occupiers of property as opposed to physically detrimental to the property.

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