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 for the connections with the sewer and discharge of their sewage into it.
The court denied the possibility of pursuing a claim for damages in nuisance where there was a statutory remedy available: ‘No doubt the defendant corporation are bound to provide and maintain the sewers (see section 14 of the Public Health Act 1936), but they are not thereby causing or adopting the nuisance. It is not the sewers that constitute the nuisance; it is the fact that they are overloaded. That overloading, however, arises not from any act of the defendant corporation but because, under section 34 of the Public Health Act 1936 . . they are bound to permit occupiers of premises to make connexions to the sewer and to discharge their sewage therein . . Nor, in my judgment, can the defendant corporation be said to continue the nuisance, for they have no power to prevent the ingress of sewage into the sewer.’

Upjohn J
[1954] Ch 450, [1954] 1 All ER 923
Public Health Act 1936 14 34
England and Wales
FollowedPride of Derby and Derbyshire Angling Association Ltd v British Celanese Ltd CA 1953
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 . .

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 . .
CitedBybrook 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 . .
CitedBarratt Homes Ltd v Dwr Cymru Cyfyngedig (Welsh Water) SC 9-Dec-2009
The developers wanted to construct their private sewer to the public sewer at a point convenient to them. The water company said a connection at the point proposed would overload the sewer, and refused. The developer claimed that it had the right to . .
CitedBarratt Homes Ltd v Dwr Cymru Cyfyngedig (Welsh Water) QBD 1-Aug-2008
The parties disputed whether the water company had the right to refuse a connection with the public sewer at a point chosen by the developer.
Held: It would be objectionable to construe the statute in such a way as to preclude an undertaker . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Utilities, Land

Updated: 13 December 2021; Ref: scu.188631