Severn Trent Water Ltd v Barnes: CA 13 May 2004

The water company appealed an award of damages after it had been found to have laid a water main under the claimant’s land without his knowledge or consent. The court had awarded restitutionary damages.
Held: The judge fell into error in awarding the exercise the judge sought to perform by awarding the additional sum of andpound;1560 was to compensate for the financial advantage to Severn Trent of using the main without having paid an appropriate sum by way of compensation during a period of 3 years up to the time (July 1995) when the judge considered that the matter would have been settled had Mr Barnes been properly advised. He had no right to an account of profits as well as a sum to compensate him for his loss. Award reduced accordingly.
Potter LJ said: ‘It is of course the position that in cases of trespass of this kind there is no right to a share in, or account of, profits in any conventional sense. The only relevance of the defendant’s profits is that they are likely to be a helpful reference point for the court when seeking to fix upon a fair price for a notional licence.’


Lord Justice Potter Lord Justice Jonathan Parker And Sir Swinton Thomas


[2004] EWCA Civ 570, [2004] 2 EGLR 95, [2004] 26 EG 194, [2005] RVR 181




Water Industry Act 1991 159


England and Wales


CitedStoke City Council v W and J Wass 1998
The court decsribed the ‘user principle’ for awarding damages for inteference with land: ‘It is an established principle concerning the assessment of damages that a person who has wrongfully used another’s property without causing the latter any . .
CitedHM Attorney General v Blake (Jonathan Cape Ltd third Party intervening) HL 3-Aug-2000
Restitutionary Claim against Pofits from Breach
The author had written his book in breach of his duty of confidence. Having signed the Official Secrets Act, he accepted a contractual private law duty. After conviction as a spy, the publication of the book was in breach of the undertaking by not . .
CitedMartin v Porter 1839
Trespass to land – way-leave – unauthorised mining. . .
CitedJegon v Vivian 1871
Unauthorised mining of land – measure of damages.
Held: Although the value of his land may not have been diminished by the trespass, the plaintiff recovered damages equivalent to what he would have received if he had been paid for a wayleave. . .
CitedWhitwham v Westminster Brymbo Coal and Coke Co CA 24-Jun-1896
Common law damages for the misuse of property involved an award of a sum equivalent to the price or hire that a reasonable person would pay for such use, even if the owner would not himself actually have been using the property. This case involved . .
CitedCarr-Saunders v Dick McNeill Associates 1986
The claim was for interference with the plaintiff’s right to light.
Held: There is a need to approach infringements of easements of light with flexibility. The plaintiff’s subjective views as to the loss of light were not to the point. When . .
CitedBracewell v Appleby ChD 1975
The defendant wrongly used and asserted a right of way over a private road to a house which he had built.
Held: To restrain the defendant from using the road would render the new house uninhabitable. The court refused an injunction on the . .
CitedWrotham Park Estate Ltd v Parkside Homes Ltd ChD 1974
55 houses had been built by the defendant, knowingly in breach of a restrictive covenant, imposed for the benefit of an estate, and in the face of objections by the claimant.
Held: The restrictive covenant not to develop other than in . .
CitedJaggard v Sawyer and Another CA 18-Jul-1994
Recovery of damages after Refusal of Injunction
The plaintiff appealed against the award of damages instead of an injunction aftter the County court had found the defendant to have trespassed on his land by a new building making use of a private right of way.
Held: The appeal failed.

Cited by:

CitedDevenish Nutrition Ltd and others v Sanofi-Aventis SA (France) and others ChD 19-Oct-2007
The claimant sought damages for the losses it had suffered as a result of price fixing by the defendant companies in the vitamin market. The European Commission had already fined the defendant for its involvement.
Held: In an action for breach . .
CitedRamzan v Brookwide Ltd CA 19-Aug-2011
The defendant had broken through into a neighbour’s flying freehold room, closed it off, and then included it in its own premises for let. It now appealed against the quantum of damages awarded. The judge had found the actions deliberate and with a . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Utilities, Land, Damages

Updated: 10 June 2022; Ref: scu.196772