The plaintiff brought an action for nuisance against the local authority for having discharged insufficiently treated effluent into the river Derwent.
Held: The plaintiffs: ‘have a perfectly good cause of action for nuisance, if they can show that the defendants created or continued the cause of the trouble; and it must be remembered that a person may ‘continue’ a nuisance by adopting it, or in some circumstances by omitting to remedy it. . This liability for nuisance has been applied in the past to sewage and drainage cases in this way: when a local authority take over or construct a sewage and drainage system which is adequate at the time to dispose of the sewage and surface water for their district, but which subsequently becomes inadequate owing to increased building which they cannot control, and for which they have no responsibility, they are not guilty of the ensuing nuisance. They obviously do not create it, nor do they continue it merely by doing nothing to enlarge or improve the system. The only remedy of the injured party is to complain to the Minister [of Health, under the 1936 Act enforcement procedure].’
Lord Evershed, the Master of the Rolls, Denning LJ
 Ch 149
Public Health Act 1936
England and Wales
Followed – Sedleigh-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 . .
Cited – Baron v Portslade Urban District Council 1900
The local authority was held liable for omitting to clean a sewer. The existence of a procedure for the enforcement of statutory duties did not exclude common law remedies for common law torts, such as a nuisance arising from failure to keep a sewer . .
Cited – Marcic 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 . .
Followed – Smeaton v Ilford Corporation ChD 1954
Overloading caused the corporation’s foul sewer to erupt through a manhole and discharge ‘deleterious and malodorous matter’ into Mr Smeaton’s garden.
Held: The authority were not liable. e connections with the sewer and to discharge their . .
Cited – Bybrook Barn Garden Centre Ltd and Others v Kent County Council CA 8-Jan-2001
A culvert had been constructed taking a stream underneath the road. At the time when it came into the ownership of the local authority, it was adequate for this purpose. Later developments increased the flow, and the culvert came to become an . .
Distinguished – Dear v Thames Water and Others 1992
These lists may be incomplete.
Updated: 20 May 2021; Ref: scu.188633