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Miller v Jackson [1977] QB 966, CA

Nuisance and negligence, the existence of a defence of coming to the nuisance

Facts

The plaintiffs in this case purchased a house in an estate which was adjacent to a functioning, in use, cricket field. The defendants in the case were members of the cricket club which used the field – Lintz Cricket Club. Cricket had been played in that field for over 70 years. After the plaintiffs moved into the property, cricket balls began to fly over the field’s protective barrier and into the plaintiffs property. The plaintiff complained, which caused Lintz Cricket Club to erect a chain link fence. This improved matters as less balls were now flying onto the plaintiff’s property but it did not fully solve the issue as some still got through. The club offered the plaintiff to pay for any damage done or injuries received as a result of the balls landing onto the plaintiff land, including fixing any broken windows and similar. The plaintiff however refused all of the club’s offers. Instead, the plaintiff started this action, arguing nuisance and negligence, and attempting to obtain an injunction to prevent the club from playing cricket on their ground. The plaintiff argued that even though the club offered to make good any damage and that there had been no injuries, she was not able to use her garden when matches were being played for fear of being struck by a cricket ball.

Issue

The issue in the case was whether the defendant cricket club members were guilty of nuisance and negligence and whether they could successfully defend against such a claim by arguing that the plaintiff had willingly come to the nuisance.

Held

The court held that the defendants were liable in both nuisance and negligence. Specifically, the court held that in the context of a claim of nuisance, it was no defence to argue that the plaintiff had come to the nuisance, as was established in Sturges v Bridgeman [1879] 11 Ch D 852. The court however refused to grant an injunction as it would be inequitable to do so in the context of the fact that cricket had been played on the grounds for over 70 years and preventing this now on behalf of the plaintiff would be to the detriment of the community.


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