The Environmental Case Law Index is a collection of judgments from 10 African countries on topics relating to environmental law, both substantive and procedural. The collection focuses on cases where an environmental interest interacts with governmental or private interests.
Get started on finding judgments that are relevant to you by browsing the topic list on the left of the screen. Click the arrows next to the topic names to reveal a detailed list of sub-topics. Most judgments are accompanied by a short summary written by subject-area expert postgraduate students from the University of Cape Town.
Read also JIFA's Environmental Country Reports for SADC
This was an appeal in the Supreme Court, by the appellants, who were residents of a housing estate, against the respondent, a transport company, in relation to a nuisance. Amongst others, the issues for determination were; whether the rule of practice and procedure at English common law, restricting the right of individuals to sue for damages for public nuisance was in accord with the Constitution of the Federal Republic of 1979, whether there was any evidence in support of the finding that the nuisance complained of is a public nuisance, and whether the claim was maintainable by means of action in a representative capacity.
The court held that common law was not, and has never been static, so itĺs modification by the Constitution was not strange. Therefore, the Court of Appeal was wrong to have imported the distinction, clearly rejected by the Constitution in instituting actions for nuisance. The court also held that in the institution of actions, the distinction between public and private nuisance in this country had been abolished by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of 1979, thus the exercise of the right of action for nuisance was no longer based on or determined by the distinction.
On the appropriateness of the action brought in a representative capacity, it was held that appellants were wrong to have prosecuted the claims for nuisance jointly. In conclusion, the court unanimously upheld the appeal in part but dismissed it in part as each individual had to claim damages separately.