What is Nuisance in Law of Torts

What is Nuisance in Law of Torts

What is Nuisance in Law


Nuisance, in law of torts, can be defined as an unlawful interference with a person’s use or enjoyment of land, or some right over, or in connection with it. It comprises of acts interfering with comfort, health, or safety. The interference may be of anyway, for example, noise, vibrations, heat, smoke, smell, fumes, water, gas, electricity, excavation or disease producing germs.


Nuisance is mainly of two types-

  • Public or common nuisance.
  • Private nuisance.

PUBLIC NUISANCE- Public nuisance is a criminal wrong. It can be defined as the interference with the right of public in general and is punishable as an offense. For example; obstructing a public way by digging a trench, constructing structures on it, etc. Although these acts may cause inconvenience to many persons but none can be allowed to bring a civil action for that, otherwise there may be hundreds of actions for a single act of public nuisance. Therefore, to avoid this multiplicity, the law makes public nuisance only an offense punishable under criminal law.

But, in specific cases where any person suffers some special or particular damage, different from what is inflicted upon public as a whole, a civil right of action is available to the person injured.

PRIVATE NUISANCE- There are some essentials that are needed to be proved for an offense to be considered as private nuisance. These essentials are stated as follows:

  • Unreasonable interference.
  • Interference with the use of enjoyment of land.
  • Damage.
  1. UNREASONABLE INTERFERENCE- Interference may cause damage to the plaintiff’s property or may cause personal discomfort to the plaintiff in the enjoyment of property. Whereas, every interference is not a nuisance. To constitute the nuisance, the interference must be unreasonable. If the interference is unreasonable, it is no defense to say that it was for the public good. So long as the interference is not unreasonable, no action can be brought. An unreasonable activity cannot be excused on the ground that reasonable care had been taken to prevent it from becoming a nuisance.
    • SENSITIVE PLAINTIFF: An act which is otherwise reasonable does not become unreasonable and actionable when the damage, even though substantial, is caused solely due to sensitiveness of the plaintiff. If the certain kind of traffic is no nuisance to a healthy man, it will not entitle a sick man to bring an action against it.
    • DOES NUISANCE CONNOTE STATE OF AFFAIRS: Nuisance is generally a continuing wrong. A constant noise, smell or vibration is a nuisance and ordinarily an isolated act of escape cannot be considered to be a nuisance.
    • MALICE: If the act of the defendant which is done with an evil motive, becomes an unreasonable interference, then it is actionable.
  2. INTERFERNECE WITH THE ENJOYMENT OF LAND- Interference may cause either: (a) injury to the property itself, or (b) injury to comfort or health of occupants of certain property.
     Firstly, an unauthorized interference with the use of the property of another person through some object, tangible or intangible, which causes damage to the property is actionable as nuisance.
     Secondly, substantial interference with the comfort and convenience in using the premises is actionable as a nuisance. A mere trifling or fanciful inconvenience is not enough. There is a rule De minimis non curat lex, which means that the law does not take account of very trifling matters.
  3. DAMAGE- Actual damage is required to be proved in an action for nuisance. In the case of public nuisance, the plaintiff can bring an action in tort only when he proves a special damage to him. In the private nuisance, although damage is one of the essentials, the law will often presume it.


  • ABETMENT- This means removability of nuisance by the person affected, but the removability must be peaceful and life should not be endangered.
  • INJECTION- This is based on the nature of nuisance and if the nuisance is such that it is impeding and should be stopped. Then injection becomes necessary.


    • Prescriptive right to commit nuisance: A right to do an act, which would otherwise be a nuisance, may be acquired by prescription.
    • Statutory Authority: An act done under the authority of a statute is a complete defense. If nuisance is necessarily incident to what has been authorized by a statute, there is no liability for that under the law of torts.
    • Nuisance due to act of others: Sometimes, the act of two or more persons, acting independently of each other, may cause nuisance although the act of any one of them alone would not be so. An action can be brought against any one of them and it is no defence that the act of the defendant alone would be no nuisance.
    • Public good: It is no defence to say that what is a nuisance to a particular plaintiff is beneficial to the public as a whole.
    • Reasonable care: Use of reasonable care to prevent nuisance is generally no defence.
    • Plaintiff coming to nuisance: It is no defence that the plaintiff himself came to the place of nuisance.

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