Strict Liability Cases Discussed Q6

a) Define

i) private nuisance
ii) public nuisance (4 marks)

b) Discuss with supported court cases, four (4) elements necessary to establish liability under Strict Liability. (16 marks)

(20 marks, 2013 Q6)

i) Private Nuisance - 

A private nuisance is an interference with a person's enjoyment and use of his land. The law recognizes that landowners, or those in rightful possession of land, have the right to the unimpaired condition of the property and to reasonable comfort and convenience in its occupation.

Examples of private nuisances abound. Nuisances that interfere with the physical condition of the land include vibration or blasting that damages a house; destruction of crops; raising of a water table; or the pollution of soil, a stream, or an underground water supply. Examples of nuisances interfering with the comfort, convenience, or health of an occupant are foulodors, noxious gases, smoke, dust, loud noises, excessive light, or high temperatures. Moreover, a nuisance may also disturb an occupant's mental tranquility, such as a neighbor who keeps a vicious dog, even though an injury is only threatened and has not actually occurred.

An attractive nuisance is a danger likely to lure children onto a person's land. For example, an individual who has a pool on his property has a legal obligation to take reasonable precautions, such as erecting a fence, to prevent foreseeable injury to children.

Trespass is sometimes confused with nuisance, but the two are distinct. A trespass action protects against an invasion of one's right to exclusive possession of land. If a landowner drops a tree across her neighbor's boundary line she has committed a trespass; if her dog barks all night keeping the neighbor awake, she may be liable for nuisance.

ii) Public Nuisance -

The term public nuisance covers a wide variety of minor crimes that threaten the health, morals, safety, comfort, convenience,or welfare of a community. Violators may be punished by a criminal sentence, a fine, or both. A defendant may also be required to remove a nuisance or to pay the costs of removal. For example, a manufacturer who has polluted a stream might be fined and might also be ordered to pay the cost of cleanup. Public nuisances may interfere with public health, such as in the keeping of diseased animals or a malarial pond. Public safety nuisances include shooting fireworks in the streets, storing explosives, practicing medicine without a license, or harboring a vicious dog. Houses of prostitution, illegal liquor establishments, Gaming houses, and unlicensed prizefights are examples of nuisances that interfere with public morals. Obstructing a highway or creating a condition to make travel unsafe or highly disagreeable are examples of nuisances threatening the public convenience.

A public nuisance interferes with the public as a class, not merely one person or a group of citizens. No civil remedy exists fora private citizen harmed by a public nuisance, even if his or her harm was greater than the harm suffered by others; a criminal prosecution is the exclusive remedy. However, if the individual suffers harm that is different from that suffered by the general public, the individual may maintain a tort action for damages. For example, if dynamiting has thrown a large boulder onto a public highway, those who use the highway cannot maintain a nuisance action for the inconvenience. However, a motorist who is injured from colliding with the boulder may bring a tort action for personal injuries.

Some nuisances can be both public and private in certain circumstances where the public nuisance substantially interferes with the use of an individual's adjoining land. For example, Pollution of a river might constitute both a public and a private nuisance. This is known as a mixed nuisance.

The legal treatment of Private and Public Nuisance is posted in another post here.

b) 4 elements necessary to establish liability under Strict Liability.

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