Andreae v Selfridge and Co Ltd: CA 1938

The plaintiff had a hotel. The rest of the island had been acquired by the defendant which was demolishing and rebuilding the other properties. The plaintiff complained, and the judge found, that by reason of the operations, which involved noise and dust, there was a substantial interference with the comfort of the plaintiff in the reasonable occupation and use of her house, such that, assuming damage to be established, an actionable nuisance would be constituted. The judge found that damage was established and assessed the damages at 4500 pounds. It was argued: ‘But it was said that when one is dealing with temporary operations, such as demolition and re-building, everybody has to put up with a certain amount of discomfort, because operations of that kind cannot be carried on at all without a certain amount of noise and a certain amount of dust. Therefore, the rule with regard to interference must be read subject to this qualification, and there can be no dispute about it, that in respect of operations of this character, such as demolition and building, if they are reasonably carried on and all proper and reasonable steps are taken to ensure that no undue inconvenience is caused to neighbours, whether from noise, dust, or other reasons, the neighbours must put up with it.’
Held: The argument succeeded. There was no evidence which would warrant its being said that ‘the type of demolition excavation and construction in which the defendant company was engaged in the course of these operations was of such an abnormal and unusual nature as to prevent the qualification to which I have referred coming into operation’, and (Sir Wilfred Greene MR) ‘I am unable to take the view that any of these operations was of such an abnormal character as to justify treating the disturbance created by it, and the whole of the disturbance created by it, as constituting a nuisance.’
Sir Wilfred Greene MR said: ‘Building operations often substantially interfere with adjoining owners’ enjoyment of their property because of noise, dust and perhaps vibration. Such matters in some circumstances might be held to be a nuisance and form grounds for an injunction prohibiting their continuance or an action for damages or both. If this were the result of ordinary building operations the business of life could not be carried on for old buildings could not be pulled down and new erected in their place. But the law takes a commonsense view of the matter and, if operations’ such as demolition and building are reasonably carried on and all proper and reasonable steps are taken to ensure that no undue inconvenience is caused to neighbours, whether from noise, dust or other reasons, the neighbours must put up with it.’
and ‘Those who say that their interference with the comfort of their neighbours is justified because their operations are normal and usual and conducted with proper care and skill, are under a specific duty if they wish to make good that defence to use that reasonable and proper care and skill. It is not a correct attitude to take to say, We will go on and do what we like until somebody complains’. That is not their duty to their neighbours. Their duty is to take proper precautions and to see that the nuisance is reduced to a minimum. It is no answer for them to say, But this would mean that we should have to do the work more slowly than we would like to do it or it would involve putting us to some extra expense’. All those questions are matters of commonsense and degree, and quite clearly it would be unreasonable to expect people to conduct their work so slowly or so expensively for the purpose of preventing a transient inconvenience that the cost or trouble would be prohibitive. It is all a question of fact and degree and must necessarily be so. In this case the defendant company’s attitude seems to have been to go on until somebody complained and, further, that its desire to hurry its work and conduct it according to its own ideas and its own convenience was to prevail if there was a real conflict between it and the comfort of its neighbours. That, to my mind, is not carrying out the obligation of using reasonable care and skill’.

Sir Wilfred Greene MR, Romer LJ and Scott LJ
[1938] Ch 1
England and Wales
CitedRylands v Fletcher HL 1868
The defendant had constructed a reservoir to supply water to his mill. Water escaped into nearby disused mineshafts, and in turn flooded the plaintiff’s mine. The defendant appealed a finding that he was liable in damages.
Held: The defendant . .

Cited by:
CitedTransco plc v Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council HL 19-Nov-2003
Rylands does not apply to Statutory Works
The claimant laid a large gas main through an embankment. A large water supply pipe nearby broke, and very substantial volumes of water escaped, causing the embankment to slip, and the gas main to fracture.
Held: The rule in Rylands v Fletcher . .
CitedWildtree Hotels Ltd and others v Harrow London Borough Council HL 22-Jun-2000
The compensation which was payable for disturbance, when works were carried out on land acquired compulsorily, did not extend to the damage caused by noise dust and vibration arising from the works. Where however damage could be brought within the . .
CitedWestminster City Council v Ocean Leisure Limited CA 21-Jul-2004
The claimant company owned property next to land which had been acquired to build a new bridge across the Thames. It sought compensation for disturbance to its business from the works.
Held: The state of the law was complicated and . .
CitedClift and Another v Welsh Office CA 23-Jul-1998
Whilst it was settled law that no compensation was payable for temporary disturbance to neighbouring land by building works on land compulsorily purchased, as soon as that disturbance came to produce physical damage, compensation became payable. . .
CitedWildtree Hotels Ltd And Others v London Borough of Harrow CA 11-Jun-1998
Temporary, if damaging disturbance which fell short of actual damage to a neighbour’s land and which was caused by works executed on land which had been purchased compulsorily, was not normally claimable and not by the owner of only a temporary . .
CitedHiscox Syndicates Ltd and Another v The Pinnacle Ltd and others ChD 25-Jan-2008
The claimants sought an injunction in nuisance, saying that the defendants had agreed to use all reasonable endeavours to avoid causing a nuisance to them in demolition works on their neighbouring land.
Held: The injunction should be granted. . .
MentionedShephard and others v Turner and Another CA 23-Jan-2006
The appellants challenged the removal of a restrictive covenant on a neighbour’s house restricting further building on the land to allow further house in the garden. It was in a small close of houses all erected, and the covenant imposed, in 1952. . .
CitedCoventry and Others v Lawrence and Another SC 26-Feb-2014
C operated a motor racing circuit as tenant. The neighbour L objected that the noise emitted by the operations were a nuisance. C replied that the fact of his having planning consent meant that it was not a nuisance.
Held: The neighbour’s . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Nuisance, Construction

Updated: 19 January 2022; Ref: scu.188037