Case details

Coventry and others (Respondents) v Lawrence and another (Appellants)

Case ID: UKSC 2012/0076

Case summary


Where an activity on land has been permitted by a regulatory regime created by statute (such as the granting of planning permission under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990) does that permission raise the threshold of interference with a neighbour’s enjoyment of their own land required before such interference constitutes a private nuisance?


The Appellants are the owners of land in West Row, Suffolk (“Fenland”). The Respondents are owners and operators of a racing track (“the Track”) and a stadium (“the Stadium”) situated approximately 500 to 800 metres from Fenland.

The Track and Stadium are used for various motor sports throughout the year. The Stadium was constructed in the late 1970s and been used for speedway racing and other motor sports since that time. In 1997 the local council issued a Certificate of Lawful Use stating that stock car racing and banger racing had become an established use of the Stadium and was therefore lawful within s. 191 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. The Track was constructed in 1992. Between 1992 and 2002 the council granted temporary planning permission for the Track to be used for motocross racing. In July 2002 the council granted permanent planning permission for the use of the Track as a motocross track.

The Appellants purchased Fenland in 2006. They claim when they bought Fenland they were unaware that motor sports took place at the Track and the Stadium. In October 2009 the Appellants brought proceedings in private nuisance against the four Respondents and two other defendants. At first instance HHJ Seymour QC ruled that three of the six defendants were liable in nuisance. On appeal the Court of Appeal unanimously overturned the judge’s decision and dismissed the Appellants’ claim in its entirety.  


Appellant name

(1) Katherine Lawrence
(2) Raymond Shields

Respondent name

(1) David Coventry    
(2) Moto-Land UK Ltd
(3) Terence Waters
(4) James Waters


Justices allocated names

Lord Neuberger
Lord Mance
Lord Clarke
Lord Sumption
Lord Carnwath

Hearing date

12 to 14 Nov 2013

Judgment hand down date:

26 Feb 2014