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Malone v Laskey [1907] 2 KN 141

Tort Law – Interest – Standing - Nuisance

Facts

The claimant lived in a house belonging to her husband’s employer.  The claimant’s husband was a tenant, and she had a license to live at the property.  Whilst using the lavatory, the cistern was dislodged by vibrations caused by the next-door neighbour’s electricity generator, which fell on her causing her injuries.  She sued her neighbour in nuisance.  It was alleged that the claimant could not bring the suit because nuisance required the claimant to have an ‘interest’ in the land subjected to the nuisance.

Issues

Whether the claimant could claim in nuisance despite not owning the property?  Whether a mere license was enough to claim an ‘interest’ in land in order to be able to sue.  Whether the claimant had a proper cause of action.  Whether a mere licensee could sue in nuisance.

Held

Her claim in nuisance failed.  As her husband was only a tenant of the property, he did not have an ‘interest’ in the land, and as such could not sue in nuisance.  The claimant herself could not sue in nuisance because she was only a licensee and as such could not have an ‘interest’ in the land affected by the alleged nuisance and so had no cause of action in this case.   No principle of law could be formulated to the effect that a person who has no interest in property, nor any right of occupation in the proper sense of the term, can maintain an action for a nuisance.  Therefore, the claimant’s claim failed and she had no cause of action at all.  No mere licensee could sue in nuisance.


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