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Hunter v Canary Wharf [1997] AC 655

Nuisance – Interest – Requirement of Proprietary Interest

Facts

Canary Wharf Ltd were constructing Canary Wharf tower in East London.  During construction, hundreds of claimants alleged that, in addition to dust and noise caused by the erection of the building, their television signals had been interrupted by the tower.  The claimants, some of whom owned their properties outright, and many others who were renting, sued in both negligence and in nuisance for the harm done to their amenity by the loss of their television signals.  At first instance, this was held to be an actionable nuisance.  The Court of Appeal then reversed this.  The claimants appealed to the House of Lords.

Issues

Whether the respondent’s actions in causing the appellant’s television signals to be interfered with through construction of their tower could constitute a private nuisance or not.  If this was so, whether or not the appellants who did not have an interest in their properties could have a cause of action or not.

Held

The appeal was dismissed.  The interference with the television signal caused by the construction of the tower could not amount to a private nuisance at law.  The tower had not been constructed with the malicious intent to so cause disruption to the signal, and remedial attempts had been made by the respondents to ensure this problem was solved.  In any event, on the second issue, and overruling Khorasandijan v Bush [1993] QB 727, an interest in the land subject to any purported nuisance was required in order to allow the claimant to have a cause of action.   A mere licensee could not sue in private nuisance.


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