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Laws301 Lecture Notes Land Based Torts Notes

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This is an extract of our Laws301 Lecture Notes Land Based Torts document, which we sell as part of our Tort Law Notes collection written by the top tier of University Of Otago (Undergrad) students.

The following is a more accessble plain text extract of the PDF sample above, taken from our Tort Law Notes. Due to the challenges of extracting text from PDFs, it will have odd formatting:

LAWS301 Lecture Notes
Part Two: Property based torts
LAND-BASED TORTS...................................................................................................................................... 3
TRESPASS TO LAND....................................................................................................................................................3
Elements of the tort of trespass to land..........................................................................................................3
Southport Corporation v Esso Petroleum Co Ltd [1954] 2 QB....................................................................................4

Cf trespass in tikanga Maori............................................................................................................................4
What constitutes an intrusion upon land?......................................................................................................5
Bernstein of Leigh (Baron) v Skyviews & General Ltd [1978] QB 489.........................................................................5
Facts...................................................................................................................................................................... 5
Issue...................................................................................................................................................................... 5
Rule....................................................................................................................................................................... 5
Application............................................................................................................................................................ 5
Bocardo SA v Star Energy UK Onshore Ltd [2011] 1 AC..............................................................................................6
Facts...................................................................................................................................................................... 6
Issue...................................................................................................................................................................... 6
Rule....................................................................................................................................................................... 6
Application............................................................................................................................................................ 6
Cf tikanga................................................................................................................................................................... 7

Defences: express or implied licence...............................................................................................................8
Tararo v R [2010] NZSC 157........................................................................................................................................8
Facts...................................................................................................................................................................... 8
Issue...................................................................................................................................................................... 8
Rule....................................................................................................................................................................... 8
Cf tikanga................................................................................................................................................................... 9

Civil remedies: injunction or damages (nominal or compensatory)..............................................................10
NUISANCE.......................................................................................................................................................... 11
What is private nuisance?.............................................................................................................................11
Context..................................................................................................................................................................... 11
Elements of private nuisance...................................................................................................................................11

An interference with the right to the use or enjoyment of land....................................................................12
Hunter v Canary Wharf Ltd [1997] UKHL 14.............................................................................................................12
Facts.................................................................................................................................................................... 12
Issues................................................................................................................................................................... 12
Rule.....................................................................................................................................................................12
Analysis................................................................................................................................................................ 13
Outcome..............................................................................................................................................................14
Problem Question....................................................................................................................................................14

Substantial and unreasonable interference..................................................................................................16
St Helen's Smelting Co v Tipping (1865) 11 ER 1483 (HL).........................................................................................16
Facts.................................................................................................................................................................... 16
Issue.................................................................................................................................................................... 16
Rule.....................................................................................................................................................................17
Analysis................................................................................................................................................................ 17
Hawkes Bay Protein Ltd v Davidson [2003] 1 NZLR 536 (HC) at [17].........................................................................18
Facts.................................................................................................................................................................... 18
Issue.................................................................................................................................................................... 18
Rule.....................................................................................................................................................................18
Analysis................................................................................................................................................................ 18
Problem question: 2019 1(a)....................................................................................................................................20

Defendant's responsibility for the interference.............................................................................................22
Creating a nuisance..................................................................................................................................................22
Matheson v Northcote College Board of Governors [1975] 2 NZLR 106...............................................................22
Continuing a nuisance..............................................................................................................................................23

1 Sedleigh-Denfield v O'Callaghan [1940] AC 880 (HL)...........................................................................................23

RYLANDS V FLETCHER..............................................................................................................................................25
Non-natural use.............................................................................................................................................25
Cambridge Water Co Ltd v Eastern Counties Leather plc [1994] 2 AC 264 (HL)........................................................26
Facts.................................................................................................................................................................... 26
Rule.....................................................................................................................................................................26
Application.......................................................................................................................................................... 26
Outcome..............................................................................................................................................................26
Easton Agriculture Ltd v Manawatu-Wanganui Regional Council [2012] 1 NZLR 120 (HC).......................................27
Facts.................................................................................................................................................................... 27
Rule.....................................................................................................................................................................27
Analysis................................................................................................................................................................ 27
Unison Networks Ltd v Nottingham Forest Trustee Ltd [2019] NZHC 2280..............................................................28
Facts.................................................................................................................................................................... 28
Rule?.................................................................................................................................................................... 28
Analysis................................................................................................................................................................ 28

The meaning of strict liability........................................................................................................................29
The escape need not be reasonably foreseeable.....................................................................................................29
The type of damage must be reasonably foreseeable..............................................................................................29
Does reasonable foreseeability of the type of damage apply to claims in nuisance?...............................................30

Relationship with nuisance............................................................................................................................31
Problem Question template.....................................................................................................................................32
Problem Question....................................................................................................................................................33

2 Land-based Torts
Trespass to land
Lecture 25: (26/05/20)
Problem Question: Tom wants to know whether his neighbour, Mark, committed trespass when he did the following acts:
(a) Planting a hedge that is intruding on Tom's property;
(b) Flying a drone over Tom's house.

Elements of the tort of trespass to land
"A trespass occurs when there is an unjustified intrusion by one party upon land which is in the possession of another" - Bocardo at [6].

Unjustified means that the party has no authority or defence to be on the land

Function of trespass to land:
"[O]ur law holds the property of every man so sacred, that no man can set his foot upon his neighbour's close without his leave; if he does he is a trespasser,
though he does no damage at all": Entick v Carrington (1765) 95 ER 807 at 817.


The harm resulting from trespass is already in the in already in the intrusion on land.
Even if the plaintiff has not suffered from tangible damage, a defendant can still be liable in trespass - it is actionable per se.
This is unusual in the law of torts, which is usually about receiving compensation for loss.

3 elements:

1. Voluntary act of intrusion

2. A physical act must be done directly on to the plaintiff's land



Southport Corporation v Esso Petroleum Co Ltd at 195, cf nuisance
Requirement of directness and physicality.
E.g. If Maria sets foot onto her neighbour's land, that is a physical act.
However, if she makes pickled cabbage, and the smell wafts over to her neighbour's land, that smell is not a physical entity. There is no physical intrusion, so no trespass has been committed.

3. The plaintiff must have exclusive possession of land

This is because trespass is concerned with protection of possessory rights.

3 Southport Corporation v Esso Petroleum Co Ltd [1954] 2 QB
A ship releases oil in the estuary of a river. The oil is carried by tide to the foreshore of the plaintiff,
causing significant damage.

Plaintiff had pleaded their claim in 3 different causes of action - trespass, nuisance, negligence.
"In order to support an action for trespass to land, the act done by the defendant must be a physical act done by him directly on to the plaintiff's land." - Lord
Denning



In Read v Lyons, Vicount Simon affirmed distinction that circumstances in Rylands v Fletcher did not constitute a case of trespass because the damage was consequential, not direct.
Here, the discharge of oil was not done directly on the plaintiff's foreshore, but outside in the estuary. It was carried by the tide onto their land consequently and was not direct.
There was therefore no trespass.

Cf trespass in tikanga Maori
Land in tikanga is conceptualised differently than that in the common law.

1. Basis in concept of mana whenua (and collective and tribal title), not individualised title

2. Examples of aukati (no-trespass rāhui): see Hirini Mead Tikanga Māori (revised ed, Huia,
2016) at 155

3. See ET Durie "Will the Settlers Settle?" (1996) 8 OLR 449

4 What constitutes an intrusion upon land?
Lecture 26: (28/05/20)
Bernstein of Leigh (Baron) v Skyviews & General Ltd [1978] QB 489
Facts
Defendants took an aerial photo of the plaintiff's country house as a part of thousands of photos taken over the past 17 years as part of their business offering them for sale to the owners.

Plaintiff alleged that the defendants wrongfully entered into the air space above his premises -
trespass, actionable invasion of his right to privacy

Issue
The issue was whether an aircraft flying hundreds of feet above the plaintiff's house to take a photograph of his house was a trespass.
Rule
Plaintiff relied on the old Latin maxim usque ad coelum - to whomsoever it belongs, it is his all the way to the heavens (and all the way to hell):

Court accepted that an owner has certain rights in the air space above their land
In Kelsen v Imperial Tobacco [1957], McNair J granted a mandatory injunction which ordered the removal of a sign which projected only 8 inches over the plaintiff's property

However, the Court notes that wholly different considerations arise when considering the passage of aircraft at heights which do not affect the owner of the land.
"I can find no support in authority for the view that a landowner's rights in the air space above his property extend to an unlimited height." - at 487 per Griffiths J.

The maxim can be described as fanciful and can lead to absurdities when applied literally - a trespass would occur every time a satellite passes over suburban backyards.

Griffiths J looked to another approach, identifying the competing interests at stake:
"The problem is to balance the rights of an owner to enjoy the use of his land against the rights of the general public to take advantage of all that science now offers in the use of air space. This balance is best struck by restricting the rights of an owner in the air space above his land to such height as is necessary for the ordinary use and enjoyment of his land and the structures upon it, and declaring that above that height he has no greater rights in the air space than any other member of the public." - at 488
Application
The Court held that the mere presence of an airplane flying hundreds of feet above the plaintiff's land did not cause any interference with his ordinary use and enjoyment of that land (in the absence of evidence suggesting the plaintiff was using that airspace).

No trespass to land at common law had been established.

5 Bocardo SA v Star Energy UK Onshore Ltd [2011] 1 AC
Facts
Defendant had a license to extract petroleum from underneath the plaintiff's land.

The plaintiff was not aware that to get the petroleum, the defendant had drilled diagonal wells into the substrata underneath the plaintiff's land, at depths of around 1000 feet.
Once the plaintiff realised what was happening, he claimed that the wells and drilling amounted to a trespass to his land.

Issue
The issue for the Court was whether the plaintiff's title to land extend down to the strata below the surface through which the wells passed.
The defendants argued that the Skyviews analysis should also apply to subsurface ownership:

They submitted that it would be sensible and pragmatic for owners to own the substrata beneath the surface as is necessary for the ordinary use and enjoyment of the surface.
The Court did not accept this argument and distinguished Skyviews.

Rule
The Court recognises that the brocard usque ad coelum is an imperfect guide:
"the brocard still has value in English law as encapsulating… a proposition of law which has commanded general acceptance. It is an imperfect guide, as it has ceased to apply to the use of airspace above a height which may interfere with the ordinary user of land." - at [26]

It is not a part of the common law and only has authority in so far as it has been adopted by
Court decisions - Bernstein of Leigh v Skyviews
"But I think that the reasons for holding that the brocard has no place in the modern world as regards to what goes on below the surface… are not by any means as compelling as they are in relation to the use of airspace." - at [26]




American authorities regard airspace as a "public highway" to which only the public have a just claim - the same cannot be said of substrata below the surface.
Although modern technology has found new ways of making use of substrata in the public interest, there is no question of it becoming a public highway.
In determining whether there is an intrusion on land, we must ask whether a plaintiff is in possession of that land
Does the plaintiff have ownership of the substrata at around 1000 feet below the surface?
"As a general rule, anything that can be touched or worked must be taken to belong to someone." - at [26]

Application
The Supreme Court held that an owner of the surface is the owner of the strata beneath it, unless there had been an alienation of it by conveyance, statute or at common law to someone else:

This has been the case since Mitchell v Mosley, and although technology has made significant developments, this is still good law

6 "The wells… are far from being so deep as to reach the point of absurdity. Indeed,
the fact that the strata can be worked upon at those depths points to the opposite conclusion." - at [30] per LJ Hope

Plaintiff's title extended down to the three wells.

Critical reflection:





Trespass does not require damage or interference with land - all we need is an actionable intrusion, interference with possession
The balancing act in Skyviews requires an inquiry into the use and enjoyment of the land, and to what extent the defendant's activity is interfering with the use and enjoyment of land
This does not sit well with the function of the law of trespass - academic criticism, balancing test should not be followed?
The test in Bocardo is more consistent with the function of trespass, centred around possession
As soon as there is an intrusion on land which is in the possession of another, a wrong has been committed.
Takes the extra balancing test from Skyview out of the equation.

Cf tikanga
Papatūānuku and the other Atua of the natural world

Property torts are based on land as a form of commodity existing for human use and enjoyment
In tikanga, land can be damaged and harmed whether or not humans make use of it or enjoy it

7

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