The Lintz Cricket Club was a public cricket pitch that has been in use for over 70 years. The Millers purchased a new house on the boundary of the pitch in an area that used to be farmland. When the cricket players hit a six the ball often goes over the fence and lands in the respondent's property. The cricket players politely come and ask for the balls back, but Mrs. Miller is very annoyed by the frequency and potential harm. The club has paid for any damaged property, and has raised the fence surrounding the pitch to its maximum height. They have made every effort possible to be accommodating including instructing the players to hit fours at ground level rather than trying for sixes. The Millers were successful at obtaining an injunction at the lower court which the club appealed.
- Is playing cricket a nuisance?
- Is it relevant that the houses were recently built and the field has been there for 70 years?
- Is this an unreasonable use of the land?
Appeal allowed, injunction overturned.
Lord Denning applies a two-part test to determine if this is a nuisance:
- Is this a reasonable use of the land?
- If it was not a nuisance before, does it suddenly become one when people encroach on the grounds whose use they clearly knew beforehand?
Denning finds that this is not a nuisance, and states that the Millers should have understood this would happen before they purchased the house. He finds that this is not a case of nuisance or negligence and thus dismisses the desired injunction. He holds that the public interest here overrides the interests of the respondents. He says that if the houses had been there first, this would have been a nuisance, however it was not a nuisance before the houses were there and their construction does not all of a sudden make this a nuisance.
Cumming-Bruce finds that although there is nuisance and negligence here on the part of the cricket club, he does not grant an injunction based on the principles of equity. He states that the public interest is relevant here, and must be balanced against the interests of the Millers. The risk of damage does not fortify the case for an injunction.
Lane, in the dissent, finds that this is a case of nuisance, and the fact that the respondents "moved into" the nuisance is irrelevant. He states that an injunction should follow and that the public interest does not outweigh the threat of harm to the Millers. He also considers the threat of personal harm.
Public interest should be considered in cases of nuisance and weighed in an equitable manner.