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Wollerton and Wilson Ltd v Richard Costain Ltd [1970] 1 WLR 411

The availability of an injunction for trespass in the absence of damage

Facts

The defendant was a building company involved in a construction project which required the use of a crane. When the crane was erected, in the only position available for it, the jib passed over the claimant’s property when the crane was in use and occasionally when it was not in use. The jib passed some 50 feet above the property and the claimant acknowledged that it caused no damage or risk thereof. The defendant admitted trespass and offered a significant sum of money to be allowed permission to operate the claim. The claimant refused the offer and began proceedings for an interim injunction preventing the trespass.

Issue

The issue on these facts was whether an injunction prohibiting trespass was available where no damage was caused by the defendant and there was no risk of any such damage occurring.

Held

It was held that in circumstances where no damage occurs, the only remedy available to a claimant is an injunction and that on the nature of the claim and the fact that trespass was occurring, an injunction ought to be granted. However, because of the nature of the claim and the surrounding circumstances, the court can exercise its discretion to suspend the injunction. The result on these facts was that the injunction was suspended for a period that allowed the defendant to complete the work that required the use of the crane. This issue of whether this discretion is exercised is necessarily a question of fact in the circumstances of the case.


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