E-law cases
 
Custom Search
   Home      Southport Corporation v Esso Petroleum

Southport Corporation v Esso Petroleum [1954] 3 WLR 200  Court of Appeal

The defendant’s oil tanker ran aground in an estuary partly due to weather conditions and partly due to carrying a heavy load and a fault in the steering. The master discharged 400 tons of oil in order to free the tanker. The oil drifted onto the claimant’s land including a marine lake which it had to close until it had been cleaned at a substantial cost to the claimant. The claimant brought an action in negligence and nuisance. The trial judge found for the defendant and the claimant appealed.

Held:

Appeal allowed (Morris LJ dissenting) the defendant was liable in negligence and public nuisance.

Lord Denning on private nuisance:

“ In order to support an action on the case for a private nuisance, the defendant must have used his own land or some other land in such a way as injuriously to affect the enjoyment of the plaintiff's land. "The ground of responsibility", said Lord Wright inSedleigh-Denfield v. O'Callaghan, reported in 1940 Appeal Cases at page 903; "is the possession and control of the land from which the nuisance proceeds." Applying this principle, it is clear that the discharge of oil was not a private nuisance, because it did not involve the use by the defendants of any land, but only of a ship at sea.”

Back to lecture outline on nuisance in tort law