Home / The Rix & Kay Blog / What is private nuisance?
Caroline Knowles-Ley

Associate - Brighton & Hove

16th May 2023

What is private nuisance?

The legal definition of private nuisance is ‘a tort against land and it is concerned with the lawful of interference with a person’s use or enjoyment of land or of some right over or in connection with that land.’ Private nuisance can fall into one of three categories

  • encroachment on a neighbour’s land
  • direct physical injury to a neighbour’s land
  • interference with a neighbour’s quiet enjoyment of their land (Hunter v Canary Wharf Ltd).

There have recently been a couple of cases in the press which concern what is known as ‘private nuisance’ one being a case involving The Tate Modern which was concerned with whether the gallery’s viewing platform constituted a nuisance to its neighbouring flat owners whose walls are mainly made of glass. The Supreme Court decided that it would overturn the High Court’s 2019 decision which had been that it was NOT an actionable nuisance.

The Supreme Court found that the flat owners should not have to take remedial action (such as lowering their blinds as put forward by the Court of Appeal) to deal with the nuisance experienced and thus it is an actionable claim in nuisance. You can read more about that case here.

There is a concern that this may open up a new front of litigation but regard must be had to the duration and intensity and that ‘a degree of overlooking is to be expected’.

Contact us

For more information on private nuisance and an informal chat about how we might be able to help, contact Caroline Knowles-Ley, e. carolineknowlesley@rixandkay.co.uk t. 01273 766917.

Caroline is a specialist in Real Estate Disputes and a member of Rix & Kay’s Dispute Resolution Team