There are basically four main considerations when tackling problem questions.
- Identify key facts of the case/scenario. Only by resolving these key facts can you address the resolution of the problem.
- Identify key areas of law.
- Application of law to the facts in order to resolve the question.
- Consider the type of conclusion required. This will vary with each question. If you are asked to advise on the defences available to a person, based on the scenario given, your conclusion can be general. You may decide to say something along the lines that recent case law indicates that sentencing for such crimes is becoming more lenient.You could offer an opinion as to why this is the case.
Mark recently received planning permission from ABC Council to add a large extension to his semi-detached bungalow. He has undertaken the work himself and has been hammering and drilling well past midnight. His next door neighbour Jill is a light sleeper and has been kept awake with the noise which has been persistent over the last 2 weeks. Mark has started depositing his building rubble on top of his wall and fumes from tins of paint have contaminated Jill’s greenhouse causing her prized dahlias to wilt and die. Jill did have a word with Mark asking him to stop making a noise so late on and to dispose of his rubbish. Unfortunately Mark has ignored requests to alter his behaviour. Does Jill have any claim(s) against Mark?
Mark has planning permission to extend his home.
He regularly carries out noisy building works past midnight.
This behaviour keeps his neighbour Jill awake.
Jill is a light sleeper.
Mark’s rubbish has been left for days on top of a wall which has caused fumes to infiltrate Jill’s greenhouse and kill her prized dahlia plants.
Mark ignores requests to behave responsibly.
Identify appropriate law.
1 Nuisance would seem to be the appropriate law.
2 There are 2 types of nuisance but this is a private as against public nuisance.
3 Anyone may sue who has use or enjoyment of land but additionally they must have a proprietary interest in the land (Hunter v Canary Wharf).
4 Define “unreasonable” use of land. Explain it depends on numerous factors: locality, duration, over-sensitivity of claimant may defeat a claim and malice may indicate a nuisance. Cases to cite for locality where a nuisance occurring in a highly built up or industrialised area is less likely to be actionable (Sturges v Bridgman); continuous duration versus one-off event (Bolton v Stone), over-sensitivity of claimant (Robinson v Kilvert) and malice (Christie v Davy).
Shortly we will look at possible defences and remedies.