Armstrong v Sheppard and Short Ltd: CA 1959

The plaintiff had a path at the rear of his property. The defendant constructed a sewer under the path, and asked the plaintiff for permission. He gave it informally, not knowing at the time that he owned the land. The sewer was constructed. Though suffering no inconvenience, on discovering his ownership, the plaintiff requested the removal of the sewer and its manhole, and an associated injunction. The judge at trial found a trespass, but gave only nominal damages and refused an injunction.
Held: The plaintiff was not debarred from objecting when his acquiescence arose through ignorance. However the trespass was trivial, and no injunction was granted.
As to the cross appeal, though the trespass was forgiven by the consent, that could not answer the claim as to the continuing discharge since that would amount to an easement which would require a formal grant.
Lord Evershed MR said: ‘it is true to say that if a man, having a proprietary right, proves an infringement of that right, prima facie he is entitled to an injunction: but that needs some qualification. It is not a matter of unqualified right; and one ground for denying an injunction would be that the wrong done is, in the circumstances, trivial. That proposition is founded on the well-known case of Imperial Gas Light and Coke Co. (Directors) v. Broadbent . . The judge was here dealing with the claim as I have formulated it: and he came to the conclusion that the circumstances of this case were special, and, as his judgment shows, that the damage was trivial . . But there were other good grounds, and formidable grounds (as I think) for refusing the plaintiff an injunction. That he misled the defendants is beyond a peradventure. It is no less clear that he attempted to mislead the court. He asserted – contrary to the fact – that he had never had any conversation with the defendants about the matter at all; and in his evidence in chief he so swore, untruly. It is not, therefore, surprising that the judge came to the conclusion that he should grant no equitable relief; and in my judgment, on the facts of this case, he was well entitled to take that view.’


Lord Evershed MR


[1959] 2 QB 384, [1959] 2 All ER 651, [1959] 3 WLR 84, (1959) 123 JP 401, (1959) Sol Jo 508


CitedImperial Gas Light and Coke Company v Broadbent HL 4-Aug-1859
If a Plaintiff applies for an injunction in respect of a violation of a common law right, and the existence of that right, or the fact of its violation is denied, he must establish his right at law, but having done that, he is, except under special . .

Cited by:

CitedPelling v Families Need Fathers Ltd CA 1-Aug-2001
The claimant, a member of the company, a charitable company limited by guarantee, sought a list of the company’s members. This was refused, and the court used a discretion not to order the list to be produced. The applicant sought to lead a group . .
CitedSt Pancras and Humanist Housing Association Ltd v Leonard CA 17-Dec-2008
The claimant sought possession of a garage. The defendant claimed adverse possession.
Held: The defendant’s appeal against an order for possession failed. The defendant had attended a meeting where his behaviour had allowed other parties to . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Estoppel, Equity, Nuisance, Torts – Other, Land

Updated: 15 May 2022; Ref: scu.278877