Anthony and others v The Coal Authority: QBD 28 Jul 2005

The claimants lived adjacent to an old coal tip, which caught fire spontaneously and burned for three years. They claimed in nuisance. The defendant argued that the risk of spontaneous ombustion was not reasonable, and that the use was safe.
Held: ‘the creation of a state of affairs on land which, at the time, carries an unforeseen and unforeseeable risk of damage to one’s neighbour is not actionable in nuisance. If, however, by the improvement of knowledge, scientific or otherwise, the risk becomes foreseeable, one is under a duty to abate that state of affairs and, if one fails to fulfil the duty to abate it, then, on the occurrence of damage, the nuisance is actionable. ‘ The defendants had failed to take reasonable steps to abate the nuisance once it became known, and were liable.
Pitchford J
[2005] EWHC 1654 (QB)
England and Wales
CitedBamford v Turnley 2-Jul-1862
The defendant burned bricks on his land, causing a nuisance to his neighbours.
Held: It was no answer to an action for damages that he selected a proper place within his land for an activity which would interfere with a neighbour’s enjoyment . .
CitedCambridge Water Company v Eastern Counties Leather Plc HL 9-Dec-1993
The plaintiffs sought damages and an injunction after the defendant company allowed chlorinated chemicals into the plaintiff’s borehole which made unfit the water the plaintiff itself supplied.
Held: The appeal was allowed. Liability under . .
CitedSedleigh-Denfield v O’Callaghan HL 24-Jun-1940
Occupier Responsible for Nuisance in adopting it
A trespasser laid a drain along a ditch on the defendant’s land. Later the defendants came to use the drain themselves. A grate was misplaced by them so that in a heavy rainstorm, it became clogged with leaves, and water flowed over into the . .
CitedAttorney General v Cory Brothers and Co Ltd HL 1921
The defendant colliers placed waste from the mine in a huge heap. Rain cause the heap to slip, damaging nearby properties. the landslide in question was of what counsel described as an ‘enormous mass of rubbish’, some 500,000 tons of mineral waste . .
CitedRickards v Lothian PC 11-Feb-1913
The claim arose because the outflow from a wash-basin on the top floor of premises was maliciously blocked and the tap left running, with the result that damage was caused to stock on a floor below.
Held: The provision of a domestic water . .
CitedOverseas Tankship (UK) Ltd v Miller Steamship Co Pty (The Wagon Mound) (No 2) PC 25-May-1966
(New South Wales) When considering the need to take steps to avoid injury, the court looked to the nature of defendant’s activity. There was no social value or cost saving in this defendant’s activity. ‘In the present case there was no justification . .
CitedSpicer v Smee 1946
A fire resulting from a non-natural user of land (i.e. a fire to which the rule in Rylands v Fletcher applies) was outside the protection of the Act, because, in such circumstances, the relevant fire was not regarded as having been started . .
CitedArscott and others v Coal Authority and Another CA 13-Jul-2004
The defendant had deposited coal wastes. When the river Taff flooded, the spoil heaps diverted the floods to damage the claimants’ homes. They appealed refusal of their claims in nuisance. The judge applied the common enemy rule: ‘an owner or . .
CitedHolbeck Hall Hotel Ltd and Another v Scarborough Borough Council CA 22-Feb-2000
Land owned by the defendant was below a cliff, at the top of which was the claimant’s hotel. The land slipped, and the hotel collapsed. Some landslip was foreseen from natural causes, but not to the extent of this occasion.
Held: The owner of . .
CitedLeakey v The National Trust for Places of Historic Interest or Natural Beauty CA 31-Jul-1979
Natural causes were responsible for soil collapsing onto neighbouring houses in Bridgwater.
Held: An occupier of land owes a general duty of care to a neighbouring occupier in relation to a hazard occurring on his land, whether such hazard is . .

These lists may be incomplete.
Updated: 30 January 2021; Ref: scu.230952