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Dalton v Angus & Co (1881) 6 App Cas 740; 46 JP 132; 50 LJQB 689;

30 WR 191; [1881-5] All ER Rep 1, 44 LT 844

EASEMENT, RIGHT OF SUPPORT, CONTINUOUS ENJOYMENT,

ADJOINING BUILDINGS, LATERAL PRESSURE

Facts

The claimants and defendants’ adjoined houses were built independently, but each had lateral support from the soil on which the other rested. This continued for more than 20 years. Then the plaintiffs’ house was converted into a coach factory. The internal walls were removed and girders were inserted into a stack of brickwork in a way that put much more lateral pressure on the soil under the adjoining house. Twenty years after the conversion, the defendants employed a contractor to pull down their house and excavate. The contractor was bound to shore up the adjoining buildings and make good all damage. The defendants’ house was pulled down and the soil underneath it excavated to a depth of several feet. As a consequence, the plaintiffs’ stack of brickwork sank and fell, bringing down with it most of the factory.

Issue

Had the plaintiffs acquired a right of support for their factory by virtue of their twenty-year enjoyment of the support?

Held

(1) A right of lateral support from adjoining land can be acquired by twenty years’ uninterrupted enjoyment for a building for which it is proved that was newly built or altered in a way that increased the lateral pressure, at the beginning of that time if the enjoyment is peaceable, without deception or concealment and so open that it is known that some support is being enjoyed by the building.

(2) Therefore, the plaintiffs had acquired the right of support for their factory by virtue of their twenty years’ enjoyment and can sue the defendants and the contractor for the damage.


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