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Legal Principles: Private Nuisance is a Continuous, Unlawful and Indirect Interference with the Use Or Enjoyment of Land, Or of Some Right Over Or in Connection with It. - Legal Reasoning

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MCQ

Apply the legal principles to the facts given below and select the most appropriate answer.
Legal Principles:

  1. Private nuisance is a continuous, unlawful and indirect interference with the use or enjoyment of land, or of some right over or in connection with it.
  2. The person who for his own purposes brings on his lands and collects and keeps there anything likely to do mischief if it escapes must keep it at his peril, and, if he does not do so, is prima facie answerable for all the damage which is the natural consequence of its escape.
  3. A person is liable if he can reasonably foresee that his acts would likely to injure his neighbour.
  4. The foreseeability of the type of damage is a pre-requisite of liability in actions of nuisance.

Factual Situation: During 2011, a European Directive was issued requiring nations of the European Community to establish standards on the presence of Perchloroethene (PCE) in water, which the Kingsland did in 2013. Alfa Water Co. purchased a borehole in 2007 to extract water to supply to the public in Kingsland. In 2014, it tested the water to ensure that it met minimum standards for human consumption and discovered that it was contaminated with an organochlorine solvent (PCE). On investigation, it emerged that the solvent seeped into the soil through the building floor of the Light & Soft Leather Tannery, about 3 miles from the borehole that eventually contaminated the Alfa's borehole. Since the tannery opened in 191 O, until 2007, the solvent it used had been delivered in 40-gallon drums which were transported by forklift truck and then tipped into a sump. Since 2007, solvents had been delivered in bulk and stored in tanks. It was then piped to the tanning machinery. There was no evidence of any spills from the tanks or pipes, and it was concluded that the water had been contaminated by frequent spills under the earlier system. Alfa Water brought a claim against the Tannery on the grounds of nuisance.
Whether the Tannery owners are liable?

Options

  • Yes, the escape of the solvent which contaminated the water is sufficient for making them liable.

  • No, the damage is too remote as it was not possible for the Tannery owners to reasonably foresee a spillage which would eventually lead to contamination of a water borehole so far away.

  • No, because Alfa Water Co. should have been careful in using good purifying mechanisms to ensure that the water is fit for human consumption. They cannot shift the blame on the Tannery owners.

  • Yes, the damage is not remote as it was possible for the Tannery owners to reasonably foresee a spillage which would eventually lead to contamination of a water borehole just 3 miles away.

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Solution

No, the damage is too remote as it was not possible for the Tannery owners to reasonably foresee a spillage which would eventually lead to contamination of a water borehole so far away.

Explanation:

In the case presented before us, Tannery owners would have been liable only and only if they could reasonably foresee that solvent is being spilt and also it has been contaminating the water source that is 3 miles away.  Foreseeability of the type of damage is a pre-requisite of liability inactions of a nuisance as is enumerated in the guiding principle (4). Hence "No, the damage is too remote as it was not possible for the Tannery owners to reasonably foresee a spillage which would eventually lead to contamination of a water borehole so far away." is correct.   

Concept: Law of Torts (Entrance Exams)
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