No, not the winner of the 1985 Melbourne Cup but invasions of a person’s interest in the beneficial use and enjoyment of his land.
Nuisance is a branch of the law, which defines obligations of neighbourliness.
The nuisances with which farmers are probably most familiar are fire and noxious weeds.
The risk of fire at harvest time is well known to farmers. A fire that gets away during a harvest on wheat country can destroy hundreds of acres of crops. Losses can run to the hundreds of thousands of dollars. If the owner of the land where the fire started had not properly assessed the risk of the fire and taken reasonable steps to protect against it then he will be liable for the loss of his neighbour’s crops. If those crops are insured against fire then it will be a tussle between insurance companies. If not, then it can get very messy.
St John’s Wort is a dreadful weed. Farmers have a statutory obligation to suppress and destroy it on a continual basis. A farmer who does not take reasonable steps to protect his neighbour from the spread of the weed will be liable for the harm that it causes. Such harm includes the cost incurred by the neighbour to check the spread of the weed on to his property, being a cost that he would not be put to but for the nuisance emanating from his neighbour. On large holdings with common boundaries of several kilometres, that cost can amount to tens of thousands of dollars per year. There is an effect on land value as well.
Farmers, more so than any other group, because of the challenges they face, deal with their neighbours in a reasonable and fair-minded way but there are some rogues about, of whom it might be said: “what a nuisance” but are likely referred to in far more colourful language. The litigation team at Everingham Solomons can help you with nuisance questions because Helping You is Our Business.
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