Dobson and others v Thames Water Utilities Ltd and Another: CA 29 Jan 2009

The claimants complained of odours and mosquitoes affecting their properties from the activities of the defendants in the conduct of their adjoining Sewage Treatment plant. The issue was as to the rights of non title holders to damages in nuisance and related causes.
Held: Damages in nuisance are for injury to the property and not to the sensibilities of the occupiers. That is so as much for the case of the transitory nuisance interfering with comfort and enjoyment of the land as it is for the case of the nuisance which occasions permanent injury to the land and to its capital value, or other pecuniary loss. However ‘the actual impact upon the occupiers of the land, although not formally the measure of common law damages for loss of amenity, will in practice be relevant to the assessment of such damages in many cases, including such as the present where a family home is in question and no physical injury to the property, loss of capital value, loss of rent or other pecuniary damage, arises.’ The court could not say whether the child of the family might be entitled to an award. That would have to be established at trial.
Waller LJ said: ‘If the house in question was available to be let during the period of the nuisance, it may be that there would be direct market evidence of loss of rental value. Otherwise, it is perhaps inevitable that the assessment of damages for loss of amenity will involve a considerable degree of imprecision. But if estate agents are to assist in placing a value on the relevant intangibles, whether by calculating the reduction in letting value of the property for the period of the nuisance or in some other way, we would expect them in practice to take into account, for the purposes of their assessment, the actual experience of the persons in occupation of the property during the relevant period. As Lord Hoffmann observed, the measure of damages for loss of amenity will be affected by the size and commodiousness of the property. If the nature of the property is that of a family home and the property is occupied in practice by a family of the size for which it is suited, the experience of the members of that family is likely to be the best evidence available of how amenity has been affected in practical terms, upon which the financial assessment of diminution of amenity value must depend.’

Waller LJ, Richards LJ, Hughes LJ
[2009] EWCA Civ 28, [2007] HRLR 45, 116 Con LR 135, [2007] CILL 2518, [2007] BLR 465, [2007] TCLR 7, [2008] Env LR 21, [2007] NPC 102, [2008] 2 All ER 362
Bailii, Times
Water Industry Act 1991 18
England and Wales
LeaveDobson and others v Thames Utilities CA 18-Mar-2008
Claim for orders re management of sewerage works – smell and mosquitoes. Leave to appeal granted. . .
Appeal fromDobson and others v Thames Water Utilities Ltd and Another TCC 24-Aug-2007
The several claimants sought damages from the defendants for nuisance from mosquitoes which collected at the defendant’s sewage works. . .
CitedMarcic v Thames Water Utilities Limited HL 4-Dec-2003
The claimant’s house was regularly flooded by waters including also foul sewage from the respondent’s neighbouring premises. He sought damages and an injunction. The defendants sought to restrict the claimant to his statutory rights.
Held: The . .
CitedHunter and Others v Canary Wharf Ltd HL 25-Apr-1997
The claimant, in a representative action complained that the works involved in the erection of the Canary Wharf tower constituted a nuisance in that the works created substantial clouds of dust and the building blocked her TV signals, so as to limit . .
CitedFadeyeva v Russia ECHR 9-Jun-2005
ECHR Judgment (Merits and Just Satisfaction) – Violation of Art. 8; Pecuniary damage – claim rejected; Non-pecuniary damage – financial award; Costs and expenses partial award – domestic proceedings; Costs and . .
CitedBone v Seale CA 1975
The plaintiffs were the owners and occupiers of two adjoining properties. They claimed damages for nuisance by smell. The judge awarded over 6,000 pounds to each of the plaintiffs. The Court of Appeal reduced the sum to 1,000 pounds.
Held: the . .
CitedHunt v Severs HL 7-Sep-1994
The tortfeasor, a member of the claimant’s family provided her with voluntary nursing care after the injury. The equivalent cost of that care, was recoverable, but would be held on trust for the carer. The underlying rationale of English Law is to . .
CitedSt Helen’s Smelting Co v Tipping HL 1865
The defendant built a factory, from which the escaping chemical fumes damaged local trees.
Held: The defendant was liable even though the smelting was an ordinary business carried on properly, and even though the district surrounding was . .
CitedRuxley Electronics and Construction Ltd v Forsyth HL 29-Jun-1995
Damages on Construction not as Agreed
The appellant had contracted to build a swimming pool for the respondent, but, after agreeing to alter the specification to construct it to a certain depth, in fact built it to the original lesser depth, Damages had been awarded to the house owner . .
CitedAnufrijeva v Secretary of State for the Home Department CA 22-Mar-2002
Three asylum-seekers brought claims of breach of their Article 8 rights. One complained of a local authority’s failure to provide accommodation to meet special needs, the other two of maladministration and delay in the handling of their asylum . .
CitedGreenfield, Regina (on the Application of) v Secretary of State for the Home Department HL 16-Feb-2005
The appellant had been charged with and disciplined for a prison offence. He was refused legal assistance at his hearing, and it was accepted that the proceedings involved the determination of a criminal charge within the meaning of article 6 of the . .
CitedDennis and Dennis v Ministry of Defence QBD 16-Apr-2003
The applicants owned a substantial property near an airbase. They complained that changes in the patterns of flying by the respondents were a nuisance and sought damages. Walcot Hall was subjected to very high noise levels from military aircraft. . .
CitedLopez Ostra v Spain ECHR 9-Dec-1994
A waste treatment plant was built close to the applicant’s home in an urban location and the plant released fumes and smells which caused health problems to local residents.
Held: A duty exists to take reasonable and appropriate measures to . .

Cited by:
AppliedLawrence and Another v Fen Tigers Ltd and Others QBD 4-Mar-2011
The claimants had complained that motor-cycle and other racing activities on neighbouring lands were a noise nuisance, but the court also considered that agents of the defendants had sought to intimidate the claimants into not pursuing their action. . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Nuisance, Utilities, Human Rights

Updated: 31 October 2021; Ref: scu.280240