Acton Local Board v Batten: ChD 1884

A dispute arose during the development of Bedford Park, Chiswick. Mr Carr had sold some of his land to the defendant, who became the owner of four houses built on the land and the soil of the street which ran between them. Mr Carr still owned two houses in the same street, which was not yet adopted as a highway. Problems arose over the drainage of the street, and Mr Carr agreed with the plaintiff board that he would build a sewer along the street to one of its pumping stations. The defendant allowed Mr Carr to build part of this new sewer through his land, provided that he then connected the defendant’s houses with the sewer. Mr Carr subsequently defaulted on this agreement, and the defendant retaliated by blocking the sewer where it passed through his land. The plaintiff board, as the local authority in whom all the sewers within the district were vested, then sued the defendant for blocking the sewer. Mr Carr supported the plaintiffs in these proceedings, in which the defendant contended that the sewer was not vested in the local authority because it had been constructed by Mr Carr for the improvement and advantage of his property, and therefore for his own profit, thus falling within one of the exceptions in section 13 of the Act. He also contended that the drain was not a sewer within the meaning of section 4 of the Act.
Held: The court dismissed the first part of the defence because almost every sewer in every street of every suburb of every town in England might be considered a sewer made for the profit of the person who constructed it. He was satisfied that he should examine the purpose for which this sewer was built, and he found that it was made for the purpose of draining all the houses in the street, and this did not fall within the first exception in section 13(1). On the second part of the defence, the Court found that the sewer had been connected to three of the houses in the street before the defendant blocked it. Since the word ‘drain’ meant any drain of and used for the drainage of one building only, and the word ‘sewer’ had the meaning we have set out in paragraph 7 above, he was satisfied that this drain was a sewer. He said: ‘I therefore cannot have any doubt as to the meaning of the Act. It was to give the largest possible interpretation to the word `sewer’ and most clearly to include a drain like this, actually laid down and intended to be connected with all the houses in an intended street which required to be connected with it. That must be within the meaning of the word `sewer’, at any rate, after more than one house had been connected with it.’

Kay J
(1884) 27 ChD 283
Public Health Act 1875
England and Wales
Cited by:
CitedCity of Bradford Metropolitan District Council v Yorkshire Water Services Ltd Admn 19-Sep-2001
The Council issued a nuisance notice in respect of sewage being deposited on a property within its area. The statutory nuisance was accepted. The issue was as to whether the sewage system was a public sewer. The judge had found that the original . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.


Updated: 13 January 2022; Ref: scu.179851