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Issa and another v Hackney London Borough Council [1997] 1 All ER 999

Local authority guilty of statutory nuisance; whether tenant has tortious cause of action

Facts

The claimants were the children of council tenants living in defendant owned accommodation. Environmental health officers found the property was severely affected with condensation and mould growth which was seriously detrimental to public health, and, therefore, a statutory nuisance contrary to sections 92(1)(a) and section 99 Public Health Act 1936. The defendant pleaded guilty, was fined and paid compensation to the claimants’ parents. The claimants successfully recovered damages for the exacerbation of asthma they suffered as a result of the defendant’s criminal offence and the defendant appealed.

Issues

The defendant asserted the claimants had no cause of action available in tort because the criminal liability imposed did not give rise to civil liability, and the provisions of the 1936 Act were self-contained and not intended to give rise to any cause of action for civil liability. The claimants contended that the 1936 Act was designed to protect a particular class of person and, therefore, a public right was created. The claimants were particular individuals who had suffered injury as a result of the defendant’s breach of statutory duty and, as such, they should be afforded an individual right of action.

Held

The defendants’ appeal was allowed. The 1936 Act was to be construed as an entirely self-contained code for dealing with the issue of statutory nuisances. Where a statute created specific duties and in addition provided a specific regime for the enforcement of these duties, it could not be interpreted as providing any other means of enforcement and even though the claimants had suffered injury and had no other remedy available, they had no cause of action in tort.


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