Smith v Giddy – Case Summary

Smith v Giddy

High Court

Citations: [1904] 2 KB 448.


The parties were neighbours. The claimant sued the defendant over damages to his crops, sustained due to branches from the defendant’s trees overhanging his land. The claimant sought damages and an injunction.

The county court found that the claimant was not entitled to these remedies. Rather, they argued that the claimant’s remedy was abatement (cutting down the branches himself).

  1. Was the claimant entitled to damages or an injunction?

The High Court overturned the county court decision. Allowing branches to overhang into the claimant’s land was actionable as a nuisance, and the nuisance had caused the claimant loss. The claimant was therefore entitled to the full range of tortious remedies.

This Case is Authority For…

This case is an early example of the tort of nuisance. It shows that intrusion onto the claimant’s land by structures on the defendant’s land can constitute an actionable nuisance.


Kennedy J speculated that if the trees had not caused any damage, the claimant’s only remedy might be abatement. However, in modern times the claimant might contend for a mandatory injunction requiring the defendant to cut down the branch, if the balance of convenience favoured this. This might be the case, for example, if the claimant could only remove the branches at substantial expense or inconvenience.