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Why Bamford v Turnley is important

Bamford v Turnley is important for defining the tort of private nuisance.

Facts

Turnley erected a brick furnace which gave off a bad odor.

Claim and issue

Bamford brought an action for nuisance against Turnley for the furnace’s bad odor. The defendant argued that furnace was a temporary one, for private purposes, and was placed as far as possible from the neighbor’s property.

The issue for the Court was whether it is a defense to a claim that a person was using property in a reasonable manner.

Held

The trial judge dismissed the claim because there was a reasonable distance between the two properties. The appellate court reversed this decision, holding that the defendant was liable in nuisance.

Reasoning

The court held that even if an action is being performed for the public benefit it may still constitute a nuisance. The public gain and the loss of the individual must be balanced. Furthermore, the Court held the defendant’s act was still a nuisance even though it was a temporary fixture. As the furnace interfered with the claimant’s land, the defendant was held liable.

George Wilshere, 1st Baron Bramwell defined private nuisance as “any continuous activity or state of affairs causing a substantial and unreasonable interference with a [claimant’s] land or his use or enjoyment of that land”.

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