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Sturges v Bridgman [1879] 11 Ch D 852

Nuisance – Private Nuisance – Use of Land – Character of Locality

Facts

The claimant, a doctor, moved house and on the premises, he bought and built a shed in his garden to carry out his private practice within.  His shed was on the boundary of the property and happened to be next door to a confectioner.  The confectioner had produced sweets in his kitchen for many years before the doctor had moved in.  The doctor alleged that the noise of the confectioner grinding his pestle and mortar was clearly audible from his shed and that this disrupted his amenity in the form of his enjoyment of his land.

Issues

Whether the doctor could claim loss of amenity when he had ‘moved to the nuisance’ or not.  Whether the character of the area or locality as a residential area meant that there was a nuisance.

Held

There was a nuisance, and the fact that the doctor had ‘moved to the nuisance’ was no defence to the nuisance itself.  Nor was there an easement acquired by the confectioner through long usage that entitled him to continue with his actions.  What constitutes a nuisance was to be decided on a case to case basis, and it is necessary to consider the particular locality itself.  What is not a nuisance in one area may well be a nuisance in another and it would be unjust if the nuisance maker had been permitted to continue with the nuisance indefinitely and without power of law to interrupt if this was to be considered a right acquired by long usage.


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