Тоrt оf Рrivаtе Nuisаnсе, thе Сrimе оf Рubliс Nuisаnсе аnd Stаtutоry Nuisаnсеs in Еnglаnd аnd WаlеsIntroductionFrom the legal perspective, nuisance is an act that interferes with the use, safety, or comfort of property, in the absence of legal justification. A private nuisance affects a single individual or a few individuals, whilst a public nuisance affects several people. Instances of private nuisance and public nuisance are the erection of a wall that deprives a neighbour’s house of illumination and conducting a disorderly house, respectively. On occasion, a person subjected to a private nuisance may abate it.
In view of the fact that individuals have dissimilar sensitivity to noise, it is indispensable for the investigator to establish that the victim is not unduly sensitive. It is also essential to establish that the quality of life and personal comfort of the victim have been compromised. Moreover, the majority of the instances brought to the attention of a local authority are persistent issues, wherein the offending conduct remains in continuance. As such, there is not decibel limit that upon being exceed renders noise a statutory nuisance.
Sound level meters merely enable investigating officers to assist them in evaluating nuisance. Any proper assessment of nuisance requires the investigating office to arrive at a conclusion on the basis of several factors, such as, the loudness and duration of the noise and the level of its intrusiveness. In addition, damages can be claimed by the victims of a private nuisance or by those who have been specifically harmed by a public nuisance. As such, the court issues injunctions against ongoing nuisances. Public nuisances can be prosecuted as crimes, as they prove to be harmful to the community.
It is essential to realise that nuisance constitutes a flexible legal category. For instance, in the past, it had been deemed a nuisance to operate a blast furnace; however, these have been regarded as legal and essential at present. The 19th century was witness to the development, in tandem, of two environmental protections systems. The first was that of common law remedies; including private nuisance; and second, negligence and a sequence of statutory controls, such as, the Alkali Act 1863 and the Public Health Act 1848.
The progressive development of these systems resulted in a certain amount of overlapping. However, the development of statutory controls had outpaced the development of the common law. Nevertheless, the common law has not become irrelevant to contemporary environmental protection. The majority of the statutes have been formulated with the intention of coexisting with the common law, and there is no design to supplant it. At the same time, the common law is not required to follow in the footsteps of the statutory innovations. At this juncture, it is to be realised that the protection provided by the common law remedies differ from those provided by the statute. For instance, in Transco Plc v Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council, Hobhouse LJ declared that this area of regulation was not exhaustive and did not provide the affected third party with an adequate voice.
In addition, the decision of the government could accord a higher priority to a national or military necessity that it regarded as being superior to individual interests. Consequently, in the usual course, it would not deal with civil liability for damage to property.
Moreover, it would not provide the third party with sufficient control and knowledge to assess and protect himself for insurance cost and consequent risk. As such, the rulings of the Court of Appeal in Coventry (t/a RDC Promotions) v Lawrence and Barr v Biffa Waste Services Ltd, retain the distinction between common law and statutory law. In addition, these decisions tend to promote the continued utility of private nuisance as a cause of action in the contemporary era.