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Barr v Biffa – odour nuisance decision reversed in the Court of Appeal

20 March 2012

The Court of Appeal held that it is not a defence to a claim for nuisance to show that waste disposal activities giving rise to a nuisance were carried out in accordance with a landfill permit and without negligence. Carnwath LJ concluded, in the judgment handed down yesterday, that the common law of nuisance remains unaffected by the enactment of parallel systems governing waste disposal and the question of whether the use of a waste disposal site gives rise to a nuisance is governed by conventional principles of nuisance.

In the first instance, Coulson J dismissed the group claims in nuisance – Carnwath has now reversed this decision in rejecting any reinvention of old, robust common law principles.

A good day for the residence surrounding the landfill who will now have their individual claims assessed. A bad day for the waste industry who, briefly, thought they may have won this smelly battle.

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