This article is written by Anshika Agrawal, student of Lloyd Law College, Greater Noida. In this article the author has discussed the concept of nuisance, it’s kinds along with it’s defences.

Nuisance is the wrong done to a man by illegally disturbing him in the enjoyment of his property or in the exercise of a common right. The wrong is in some respects similar to trespass, and the two may coincide, some type of nuisance being also continuing trespasses. The scope of nuisance, however, is wider.

Nuisance is a human activity or a physical condition that is harmful or offensive to any person and come up as a cause of action. A public nuisance created in a public place or on public land, or affecting the morals, safety, or health of the community, is reffered as an offense against the state. For example, obstructing a public road, polluting water and air, managing a house of prostitution, and having explosives are public nuisances.

Secondly, a private nuisance is an activity or condition that impede with the use and enjoyment of neighbouring privately possessed lands, without, however, constituting an actual invasion of the property. Thus excessive noise, disagreeable odors, noxious vapors and vibrations may be a private nuisance to the neighboring members, although there has been no physical trespass on their lands.


         PUBLIC NUISANCE- A person is responsible of a public nuisance who does any act, or is guilty of any unlawful omission, which causes any common injury, threat or irritation, to the public or to the people in common who resides, or occupy property in the surroundings, or which must necessarily cause injury, obstruction, threat or irritation to persons who may have occassion to use any public right.

Public nuisance does not produce a civil cause of act for any person. In order that an individual may have a private right of action in respect of a public nuisance, the following must be established:

  • It must show a particular injury to him beyond that which is undergone by the rest of public;
  • The injury must be substantial character;
  • Such injury must not be indirect and not a simple consequential injury

    PRIVATE NUISANCE- It is an illegal interference with someone’s use and gratification of property or some right over or in relation with property. Action for nuisance lies for the safeguard of plaintiff’s property rather than for damages.
    Private nuisance include acts leading to :

  • Wrongful interruption to easements(restrictions of natural rights) or servitudes. Eg: obstruction to light and air, disturbance of right to support or
  • Incorrect use of one’s own property leading to physical injury to the person, property or ease of the occupier of another property. Some of the acts for discomfort are vibrations caused by machinery and dust etc. It is actionable only as a nuisance if done hatefully.
  • Wrongful escape of deleterious substance into another’s property such as smoke, smell, gas, noise, fumes, heat, water, filth, electricity, disease-germs, trees, vegetation, etc.

If a nuisance is created on a highway by a private individual, liability would arise if any person is harmed as a result of what has been done irrespective of negligence. If anything is placed on a highway which is likely to cause an accident being an obstruction to those who are using the highway on their lawful occassion such as vehicle unlighted and unguarded standing there at the night and an accident results, there is a nuisance which is actionable.
Secondly, the obstruction must be unreasonable. Thus, to cause the creation of queues without completely jamming the public passage is a nuisance.


1. PRESCRIPTION- The defense of prescription, which is only applicable to private nuisance, is a claim that a defendent has obtained a right to cause the significant nuisance as they have done so for over 20 years without interruption. It is important to note that the start of this 20-year period is not from the start of the activity itself, but from the start of the time that the act turns out to be a nuisance.

2. STATUTORY AUTHORITY– If a defendent’s activity is authorized by statute, then this will likely form a valid defense. However, an authorized activity which is undertaken in an irrational manner can still give rise to a claim in nuisance.

The law of nuisance is almost an uncodified one. Yet it has grown and expanded through interpretation and through a plethora of judgments. This concept arises in our daily lives while dealing with normal things. The decision regarding the same has to be delivered on a case to case basis ensuring that neither the defendent is punished unnecessarily nor the aggrieved plaintiff goes back uncompensated.

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