Cambridge Water Company v Eastern Counties Leather Plc: Cambridge Water Company v Hutchings and Harding Ltd: CA 19 Nov 1992

The defendants operated a plant using chlorinated solvent chemicals which, over a long period had seeped through the floor of their factory and into the chalk subsoil, eventually polluting the plaintiff’s water supply some mile and half away. The solvent contaminated the water in the borehole, which could not lawfully be supplied as drinking water as it did not comply with regulations issued pursuant to an EEC Directive. It appears that the regulations came into force after the relevant spillage on the defendant’s land but before the contamination of the water in the borehole. The water company appealed against a decision that the company was not liable.
Held: Appeal allowed. Following Ballard, the defendants must be strictly liable for the consequences of allowing the escape of the chemicals.

Times 29-Dec-1992, Independent 27-Jan-1993
England and Wales
FollowedBallard v Tomlinson CA 1885
The parties were neighbouring land owners, and each had a deep well. The defendant emptied the sewage from his property into his well, and this polluted also the neighbour’s well. The pollution was actionable. His behaviour appropriated the water . .
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:
Appeal fromCambridge 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 . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.


Leading Case

Updated: 02 November 2021; Ref: scu.188011