• Lex Specialis

Definition and Types of Nuisance in Tort Law

- Anish Jandial


There may have been various examples when our neighbors' experience caused us difficulty by 'getting a charge out of' the right to utilize their own territory in the way they need. Be it boisterous music, loud and swarmed parties, remodel works and whatnot. In the midst of this, one may ponder about their own rights to make the most of their territory with no obstruction. Albeit each citizen has a right to make the most of their own territory without impedance, it is difficult to acquire it in an absolute manner.


The word “nuisance” is derived from the French word “nuire”, which means “to do hurt, or to annoy”. Nuisance is an unlawful or unreasonable impedance with an individual's utilization or delight in land, or of some right over, or regarding it. Nuisance is a physical issue to the right of an individual possessing property to undisturbed enjoyment regarding it and result from inappropriate use by someone else in his property.

Test of Unreasonability

1. Nature of Neighbourhood

The character of the neighborhood wherein the supposed nuisance has occurred is pertinent in choosing whether there is a private nuisance or not. The event of a nuisance can't be dictated by the theoretical thought of the thing itself, yet additionally thinking about the conditions and environmental factors. Where an area is committed to a specific trade or production carried on by the merchants or makers in a specific and established manner does not constitute a nuisance(Sturges v Bridgman [1879] 11 Ch D 852, exception in Rushmer v Polsue & Alfieri Ltd [1906] 1 Ch 234).

2. Sensitivity of Claimant

In the event that the harm is expected more to the sensitivity of the petitioner's property than to the respondent's conduct then no nuisance is committed. In a case held, the respondent let a floor of his property to an occupant to be utilized as a paper stockroom, holding the room immediately beneath. The occupant brought an action to prevent his proprietor from heating the room, in light of the fact that the rising warmth dried his unique brown paper, making it less significant. The normal paper would not have been harmed. There was no private nuisance (Robinson v Kilvert (1888), Bridlington Relay Co v Yorkshire Electricity Board [1965] Ch 436, McKinnon Industries Ltd v Walker [1951] 3 DLR 577).

3. Duration of Nuisance

The event of a private nuisance can be dictated by the term of the supposed nuisance. The probability of the demonstration being unreasonable is more when its term is longer.

4. Public Benefit

Customarily, the individual right is without a doubt given more significance than the public benefit. In any case, the modern view would consider what remedy is being sought. The court may think about public benefit so as to choose whether or not to give an injunction.

In Miller v Jackson [1977] QB 966, the offended party complained about cricket balls entering his nursery every now and again from the adjacent cricket club even after the club's few endeavors to forestall it. The court held that a nuisance had occurred however declined injunction since the court felt that public utility of the club exceeded the offended party's interest.

5. Malice

An ill intention or malice of the defendant may make what might somehow or another have been sensible conduct, preposterous, and a nuisance. In a case held, the plaintiff gave music lessons in his home which irritated the defendant as they lived in adjoining houses. The defendant yelled and struck against the walls so as to upset the exercises.

Types of Nuisance

Nuisance is mainly of two types:

  1. Public Nuisance

  2. Private Nuisance

Public nuisance and Private nuisance depend on fundamentally various standards. A private nuisance is a common wrong dependent on the unsettling influence of a plaintiff's rights in his property. A public nuisance, on the other hand, isn't subject to an unsettling influence of rights of land, but instead upon obstruction with the rights of the community at large.

1. Public Nuisance

Public Nuisance, otherwise called Common Nuisance is one of the two sorts of Nuisance, the other one being Private Nuisance. It basically implies a movement on one's territory that materially influences a class of individuals. It is a culpable offense.

Section 3(48) of the General Clauses Act, 1897 and Section 268 of the Indian Penal Code both deal with Public Nuisance.

In the case of Ram Raj Singh v. Babulal AIR 1982, A made a brick crushing machine adjoining to the premises of B who is a medical practitioner. A great deal of residue is created because of the working of the brick grinding machine. The residue enters B's chamber and the settlement of the residue is obviously noticeable on the garments adding on to the physical inconvenience.

  • Elements of Public Nuisance

  • An act or illegal omission.

  • Should cause any common injury, danger or annoyance.

  • Should be caused to the people in general who dwell, or occupy the property, in the vicinity.

  • Must necessarily cause an injury, an obstruction, danger or any annoyance to persons who may have occasion to use any public right.

2. Private Nuisance

Private nuisance is the utilizing or approving the utilization of one's property, or of anything under one's influence, in order to damagingly affect a proprietor or occupier of property by physically injuring his property or affecting its enjoyment by interfering materially with his health, comfort or convenience.

As opposed to public nuisance, private nuisance is a demonstration influencing some specific individual or people as recognized from the public at large. The remedy in an action for private nuisance is a civil action for damages or an injunction or both and not an indictment.

  • Elements of Private Nuisance

  • The petitioner must have an interest in the land.

  • There must be an unreasonable or unlawful utilization of the land by the defendant which is the wellspring of the nuisance.

  • Such unreasonable or unlawful utilize must bring about irritation or distress or burden to the petitioner which the law considers as substantial or material.

  • The petitioner must endure some mischief/harm.


The law of nuisance is practically an uncodified one. Notwithstanding, it has developed and reached out through interpretation and through a lot of judgments. Indian Courts in the issues of nuisance have obtained earnestly from the English measures similarly as from the decisions of the standard law system alongside making their precedents. This has achieved a sound arrangement of law being developed that ensures decency and thriving of all, for instance, the parties and the general public as a whole.


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