Hayley Tam and George Hobson from LexisPSL on a successful private nuisance claim against a foundry for odours
Local residents have succeeded in a private nuisance claim against an aluminium foundry near Birmingham for odour emissions.
Although successful, the level of compensation settled in Anslow v Norton Aluminium  All ER (D) 03 was relatively low, with claimants awarded a maximum of £14,000 each.
Overall, damages and legal costs were significant, totalling around £1.4 million. However, as the foundry entered administration 10 days before the judgment, it is unclear whether the compensation will be paid.
The evidence suggested that Norton Aluminium operated its secondary foundry in contravention of regulatory environmental standards over seven years.
Applying the principles in Barr v Biffa Waste Services  All ER (D) 141, the judge determined that, although the claimants had failed to establish a legal nuisance by way of noise, smoke, fumes and dust, they had established an unreasonable interference with the use and enjoyment of their properties by reason of odour.
The issue then became the correct method for determining compensation for loss of amenity. The judge calculated damages on the basis of the degree of odour (using isopleths) affecting each claimant’s property rather than on diminution in value (market rental figures).
According to Gordon Wignall, a barrister at No5 Chambers who acted for the claimants, the case shows that the threshold standard for proving common law nuisance is not particularly high, and that businesses are potentially more at risk from householders’ claims in common law nuisance than from regulators with statutory powers.