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   Case summaries      Tate & Lyle v Greater London Council

Tate & Lyle v Greater London Council [1983] 2 AC 509

Tate & Lyle operated a sugar refinery on the bank of the river Thames. They had a jetty from which raw sugar would be offloaded from barges and refined sugar would be taken. The sugar would be taken be larger vessels and then transferred to smaller barges to enable them to get to through the shallow waters. As part of development Tate & Lyle wished to construct a new jetty and dredge the water to accommodate the larger vessels. At the same time the GLC was constructing new ferry terminals. The design of the ferry terminals was such that that it caused siltation of the channels. After using the channels for a short while, Tate & Lyles’ larger vessels were no longer able to use them. Further dredging at the cost of £540,000 was required to make the channel and jetties usable by the vessels. Tate & Lyle brought an action in negligence and nuisance to recover the cost of te extra dredging.


The claim in negligence and private nuisance failed since they did not possess any private rights which enabled them to insist on any particular depth of water. The claim succeeded in public nuisance since the interference caused by the ferry terminals affected public navigation rights. Tate & Lyle suffered particular damage as a result of this interference.
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