6.1 Nuisance and Rylands v Fletcher - Introduction

Welcome to the first lesson of the sixth topic in this module guide - Nuisance and Rylands v Fletcher! The tort of private nuisance is the mechanism by which tort law can deal with annoyance caused by certain land usage. One factual scenario may give rise to possible actions under public or private nuisance, the rule in Rylands v Fletcher, or statutory nuisance. It may form the basis of a problem question and as such is important to understand.

At the end of this section, you should be comfortable in defining and applying the various rules relating to possible nuisance actions. The section begins by defining private nuisance, explaining the link the tort has with proprietary rights, explaining how to define unreasonable interference and discussing the requisite element of harm. The section then moves onto public nuisance, where defining the rules involves considering the type of ‘class’ that must be affected and the extra special damage requirement necessary to make a claim actionable. Finally, the rule in Rylands v Fletcher is considered, including the four elements of the rule which are addressed in turn. 

Goals for this section:

  • To be able to define and apply the rules relating to the tort of nuisance.

Objectives for this section:

  • To understand how private nuisance is defined.
  • To be able to define the necessary elements of an actionable claim in public nuisance.
  • To understand the rule developed in the case of Rylands v Fletcher.
  • To be able to discuss defences and justifications for the law in each of the types of nuisance claim discussed.

Start the Lecture

We have three lengths of lecture to suit varying study needs. Select one of the options below to get started (if you have already chosen a study level you will see the option highlighted in violet):

Summary Notes Standard Lecture Detailed Lecture

Problem Questions

Each lecture is also accompanied by hands on examples of problem questions for the subject. You can jump directly to the questions below:

Hands on Examples