Adams v Ursell – Case Summary

Adams v Ursell

High Court

Citations: [1913] 1 Ch 269.


The defendant operated a fish and chip shop near to the claimant’s home. The claimant sued him in nuisance after complaining of an intolerable smell and vapor cloud emanating from the shop. The smell and vapour spread onto the claimant’s land from late morning to around 10:30 at night. The defendant argued that he should not be liable. He argued that he took great care in his work, using the best appliances and fish, and tried his best to minimise the smell.

  1. Was the defendant liable in nuisance?

The High Court held that the smell was a nuisance. The court granted the claimant an injunction restraining the defendant from operating his business on that street.

This Case is Authority For…

The fact that a defendant exercises reasonable care to avoid interfering with his neighbour’s land is not relevant to nuisance. Whether something is a nuisance is to be assessed by reference to factors such as the level of inconvenience caused and the nature of the neighbourhood in which it occurs.


Eady J defined a nuisance as ‘an inconvenience materially interfering with the ordinary comfort physically of human existence, not merely according to elegant or dainty modes and habits of living, but according to plain and sober and simple notions among the English people.’