The tort of private nuisance is ‘primarily concerned with conflict over competing uses of land’ (Fleming, 1992, p. 409). It is remedied by the award of damages, or by the granting of an injunction, or both (see Ch. 23). That much is clear. The task of mapping out the precise contours of the tort, however, has frustrated the legal mind from the early days of the common law. Confusion has undoubtedly been caused by a failure clearly to distinguish private nuisance, with which we are concerned here, from public nuisance, the crime of ill-defined scope which may exceptionally give rise to liability in tort (see Ch. 17.1). But even considered on its own, in isolation from public nuisance, private nuisance suffers from a lack of doctrinal clarity. One of the most ancient actions in the law of tort, it retains hints of its history in the days of the forms of action and many pockets of caselaw falling under the general rubric ‘nuisance’ strike us today as anomalous; the tort has yet to be united under a coherent thread of general principle, albeit that steps have been taken towards this goal.
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