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De Keyser’s Royal Hotel v Spicer Bros (1914) 30 TLR 257

Private Nuisance – Injunction – Building Work – Continuing State of Affairs

Facts

The defendants were constructing a building nearby to the claimant’s hotel.  This involved the excavation of the foundations and pile-driving operations to be carried out as a result.  The excavation work was carried on between 7:30pm and 6:40am, with pile-driving operations being carried on mostly during the daytime.  However, on one occasion the pile-driving continued throughout the night.  The claimant’s brought a claim in private nuisance alleging that the ongoing activity prevented guests from sleeping and from guests being able to hear the speaker after dinner.  The claimants sought an injunction to prevent the work being carried out at these times.

Issues

Whether the defendant’s temporary building works could constitute a nuisance.  Whether or not the temporary work was of a consistent enough nature to constitute a continuous interference with the claimant’s amenities and the enjoyment of their land.

Held

The claim was successful.  The defendants had not operated their excavation and building in a reasonable manner, and the interference with the claimant’s land was capable of constituting a continuous interference with their enjoyment of their land.  This was the case even though the building works were temporary in nature and would eventually cease, because the works had continued throughout the evening for a matter of months and because they had been carried out at unreasonable times in the evening and through the night.  This had resulted in the guests being unable to sleep.  Private nuisance did not require that the nuisance be completely permanent in nature, but it was required that it was continuous.  This was so in this case, and as such the injunction could be granted.


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