Study Notes

Key Case | Sedleigh Denfield v O’Callaghan (1940) | Nuisance – Adopting the Nuisance

A-Level, BTEC National
AQA, Edexcel, OCR, IB, Eduqas, WJEC

Last updated 9 Oct 2020

A defendant may still be liable in nuisance even where they did not create the activity amounting to a nuisance, but whereby there are seen to have adopted it.


Claimant: Owner of neighbouring house to the defendant’s land

Defendant: The trustees of the St. Joseph’s Society for Foreign Missions

Facts: A field owned by an order of Monks had a hedge with a ditch behind it, the Council in agreement with a different (and unauthorised party) placed a pipe in the ditch, but the workers failed to complete it properly so that flooding was prevented. Following a heavy rainstorm, the pipe became blocked and the claimant’s premises were flooded causing significant damage. The defendants were aware of the work that had been completed.

Outcome: Liable

Legal principle: The defendant landowners were liable, despite not negligently installing the pipeworks themselves, they continued and adopted the nuisance. The pipework had been in place for three years and they had taken no action to property install a misplaced grid which would have removed the danger to the claimant’s property.

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