It is a general rule of our law that a landowner may not use his or her property in a way that causes harm to another person. This means that a landowner’s right to use the property is limited and there is an obligation on him or her not to act in a way that will infringe the rights of a neighbour. The test of whether the landowner’s use of his or her property fails to comply with this obligation is one of reasonableness and fairness. This principle of reasonableness is relevant to all forms of polluting activities.
Derrick lives on a cattle farm in a quiet rural area. His neighbour has set up a device which makes explosive noises at regular intervals during the day and night to scare baboons away from his kitchen vegetable garden. Derrick’s family cannot sleep because of the noise, and his cattle have become restless and uncontrollable. What can he do?
What rights are affected?
It is possible to see the interaction of the three branches of law that have been discussed so far:
In this case it would be possible to argue that: