Durrant v Branksome Urban District Council: CA 1897

A right to discharge surface water and treated effluent into private watercourses was impliedly conferred on local authorities by the Public Health Act 1875. Section 15 of that Act imposed on local authorities a duty to cause such sewers to be made as might be necessary for effectually draining their district. The extent of that duty was largely demand-led. This was because section 21 entitled any owner or occupier of premises in a local authority’s area to connect to a public sewer, and section 18 provided that a local authority should not be entitled to discontinue the use of a sewer unless it made available another sewer which was as effectual for the use of those served by the existing one. The critical sections from which the Court of Appeal derived the right of discharge into private watercourses were sections 16 and 17. Section 16 empowered a local authority to ‘carry any sewer’ through, across or under any street or road or, on notice to the owner or occupier, any land within their district. Section 17 was a proviso in the following terms: ‘Nothing in this Act shall authorise any local authority to make or use any sewer, drain or outfall for the purpose of conveying sewage or filthy water into any natural stream or watercourse, or into any canal pond or lake until such sewage or filthy water is freed from all excrementitious or other foul or noxious matter such as would affect or deteriorate the purity and quality of the water in such stream or watercourse or in such canal pond or lake.’


Lindley LJ, Lopes LJ, Chitty LJ


[1897] 2 Ch 291


Public Health Act 1875 15 16 17 21


Appeal fromDurrant v Branksome Urban District Council 1897
The right of discharge was implicit in the express terms of section 17 of the 1875 Act, which by restricting the right to discharge foul water into any watercourse impliedly recognised the existence of a right to discharge treated effluent and . .

Cited by:

CitedThe Manchester Ship Canal Company Ltd and Another v United Utilities Water Plc SC 2-Jul-2014
The court was asked: ‘whether a sewerage undertaker under the Water Industry Act 1991 has a statutory right to discharge surface water and treated effluent into private watercourses such as the Respondents’ canals without the consent of their . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.


Updated: 06 May 2022; Ref: scu.551305