Robinson v Workington Corporation: CA 1897

Mr Robinson’s houses were damaged by water overflowing from the council’s public sewers. The sewers were adequate until new houses were built. He claimed damages in respect of the council’s failure to build a new sewer of sufficient dimensions to carry off the increased volume of sewage.
Held: The court dismissed his claim. The 1875 Act provided a mechanism for enforcing performance of the statutory drainage obligation. The remedy available for breach of the drainage obligation was determined by the statute, which provided that in cases of default the Local Government Board should make an appropriate order which, if not complied with, was enforceable by a writ of mandamus. That was the only remedy: ‘It has been laid down for many years that, if a duty is imposed by statute which but for the statute would not exist, and a remedy for default or breach of that duty is provided by the statute that creates the duty, that is the only remedy. The remedy in this case is under section 299, which points directly to section 15, and shews what is to be done for default of the duty imposed by that section. That is not the remedy sought for in this action, which is brought to recover damages.’


Lord Esher MR


[1897] 1 QB 619


Public Health Act 1875 299


England and Wales


AppliedGlossop v Heston and Isleworth Local Board 1878
The local authority was held not liable for damage caused by an overflow of their sewage systems which had been adequate when installed but became inadequate over time. . .

Cited by:

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 . .
ConfirmedPasmore v Oswaldtwistle Urban District Council HL 1898
Where an Act creates an obligation, and enforces the performance in a specified manner, it is a general rule that performance cannot be enforced in any other manner.
Earl of Halsbury LC said: ‘The principle that where a specific remedy is given . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Utilities, Nuisance

Updated: 19 May 2022; Ref: scu.188627