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All You Need To Know About Public and Private Nuisance

All You Need To Know About Public and Private Nuisance

Having the basic knowledge about Public and Private Nuisance can help you live with others and in your neghbourhood without infringing on the rights of individuals and the community. 

What the Basic Difference Between is a Nuisance and Tort?

A nuisance is one of the wrongs committed under tort law. In Private nuisance, the nuisance affects only individuals or determinate bodies thereof. Whilst in Public nuisance, it affects the general public or public at large.

Tort law is simply “Civil Law”. And a Tort is a wrong privately committed by a party against another party.
There are however two types of Nuisance, “Public Nuisance and Private Nuisance”. Nuisance is committed by individuals, groups of individuals, or a company committing the tort against another.

According to Section 268 of IPC, “Public Nuisance” is a Criminal offense. It is an illegal act or omission causing injury, obstruction, danger or annoyance to the public in general or the public at large. Simply put “Nuisance” is any unreasonable interference with a person’s Property, specifically his landed property and his right to enjoy his property.

A Person or organization will be found guilty of public nuisance by performing act or omissions which are illegal and cause common injury, danger, obstruction or annoyance to the public or to people who dwell or occupy a property in the vicinity or interfering with the comfortable performance of public rights of persons in public. For example a newly built factory in a residential area emitting fumes that have poisoned vegetation on different properties in the area.

A Private nuisance is any illegal act, or omission causing injury or danger to any individual or his property. An individual or person will be found guilty of private nuisance where they unlawfully interfere with another person’s right to use and enjoy his property or someone’s right over or in connection with a property. This could be the landlord or a tenant. Leeman v Montagu (1936) (Macintyre E.)

Nature of Public and Private Nuisance

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Right to Sue and Liabilities in Public and Private Nuisance

In the Private nuisance a private individual or his legal counsel, to whom or to whose property injury is caused can sue.
Whilst in public any public motivated person or community champion like the “Member of Parliament” or organization can sue. A local authority could take up the suit on behalf of its members, or an ordinary member of the public who may have been more affected than the other members of the public. In private nuisance, the offending party is liable, except in situations where a landlord with prior knowledge of the nuisance can also be sued. Whilst In public nuisance the offending party is the one to be sued.

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Remedies and Defence

Remedies for private nuisance are: defendant will be liable where damages suffered was one the defendant could reasonably foresee damages, damages will be determined using the same principles in measuring the value of damages in negligence, mitigation where the defendant takes reasonable steps to reduce the loss or the extent of damage, the injunction is getting a court order ordering the defendant to behave a certain way such as to end the nuisance, abatement permits a claimant to remove the nuisance where this can be done without trespassing on the defendant’s property, it must be necessary to take the action or inappropriate to take legal action. Lemmon v Webb (1895)
Whilst the Remedies for Public nuisance are: injunction and damages that reasonably foreseeable.

The defenses for Private nuisance are: statutory authority: where the nuisance is committed in compliance with a statute of law, prescription: is a property right to continue committing the nuisance as a result of committing it for 20yrs without force or permission and doing so openly, consent of claimant: where the claimant had agreed to the nuisance being committed, contributory negligence: where the nuisance is committed by negligent conduct. Whilst the defenses for Public nuisance are: statutory authority, contributory negligence, and consent of the claimant

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A clear understanding of nuisance will go a long way to help many victims of this overlooked aspect of law to understand it and be able to differentiate between the two and their rights with regard to this aspect of the law. It will also help many take the right steps in protecting themselves so they don’t fall foul of this law.

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