• In the case of Coventry v Lawrence [2014] UKSC 46, it was held that it was largely a question of fact as to whether the landlord of a stadium had directly participated in a noise nuisance. However, doing nothing to stop or discourage the nuisance does not amount to participation.

Facts of the Case

  • D owned and leased a stadium used for stock car and banger racing, greyhound racing and speedway racing.
  • Since January 2006, C occupied a bungalow 860 metres away from the stadium, and otherwise surrounded by agricultural land.
  • In April, C complained to the council regarding the noise from the stadium, and threatened D with proceedings.
  • In December 2007, the council served noise abatement notices, requiring D to mitigate the noise emanation. These ‘attenuation works’ were carried out (later than should have been) by January 2009.
  • In 2008, C issued proceedings for an injunction to restrain D for nuisance alleging that the stadium activities constituted a nuisance (individually, or cumulatively).
  • C maintained this contention following the completion of the attenuation works. D filed a joint Defence in December 2009 denying nuisance.


  • Was D liable for his tenant’s nuisance on the grounds that D had authorised it?
  • Was the nuisance an inevitable consequence of the letting, and if so was D liable for knowing how the stadium would be used?

Held by the Supreme Court

  • Finding for D, that the nuisance was not an inevitable or almost certain consequence of the letting. D knowing how his tenants would use the premises, and that the use had resulted in nuisance, did not constitute participation.
  • D had not actively participated in the nuisance. D doing nothing to stop or discourage the nuisance could not amount to participation.
  • Except for very unusual circumstances, authorisation could not be inferred by D’s failure to mitigate the nuisance. Furthermore, D attempting to fight off allegations of nuisance against his tenant did not amount to participation.

Lord Neuberger

  • There is no question of D being liable to C for the nuisance on the ground that it was an inevitable, or nearly certain, consequence of the letting. The intended uses of the stadium properties were well known to D and those uses have in fact resulted in nuisance, but that is not enough to render the D liable. It is accepted that those uses could be carried out by the tenants without causing a nuisance to C based on previous uses.
  • Although there is little authority on the issue, the question whether a landlord has directly participated in a nuisance is largely one of fact rather than law.
  • Even if a person has the power to prevent the nuisance, inaction or failure to act cannot, on its own, amount to authorising the nuisance.
  • D acting for his tenants in fighting off the nuisance abatement and proceedings do not constitute participation in the nuisance.
  • “Any landlord, whose premises were being lawfully used for motor car and motorbike racing, would naturally wish to avoid, or else to minimise, any restriction on the emission of noise from the premises. Any such restriction would be very likely adversely to affect the value of his reversionary interest, as it would risk curtailing the racing activities on the premises, and therefore the commercial attraction of the premise…On that ground alone, I find it hard to accept that, by trying to fight off allegations of nuisance against his tenants, a landlord can be said to be participating or authorising the nuisance” [24].
  • It is worth recalling that authorising or participating in a nuisance is not limited to landlords; this is a general principle of tortious liability.
  • Any person with an interest in the activities continuing, such as locals, spectators, or anyone with an economic interest might seek to persuade the local authority against action curtailing the activities.
  • It would be illogical if D alone was liable because he takes such a course because of his economic interests. Even taking the lead in defending the allegations cannot of itself undermine this analysis. The most it can do is to reinforce other factors.