Halsey v Esso Petroleum [1961] 2 All ER 145

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  • Halsey lives down the road from an Esso Petroleum oil factory.
  • Halsey claimed that the factory’s emissions produced an offensive smell, and that the acidic residue from the factory’s smoke damaged his linen and car’s paint.
  • Halsey was also kept up at night by the noise from the trucks constantly moving about in the area.


  • Was Esso Petroleum liable to Halsey for nuisance?


  • Yes, an injunction is granted at night to prevent the noise from affecting the neighbourhood.
  • The locality and character of the neighbourhood is important.  Veale J determined that the factory could operate without causing nuisance, and noted that there was little noise pollution during the day.
  • The smell can be a nuisance – the smell was held to be “a nauseating smell, and …so frequent as to be an actionable nuisance.”


It is important that the nature of the district should be borne in mind”

(Veale J at page 149)

“Nuisance by smell or noise is something to which no absolute standard can be applied. It is always a question of degree whether the interference with comfort or convenience is sufficiently serious to constitute a nuisance. The character of the neighbourhood is very relevant and all the relevant circumstances have to be taken into account. What might be a nuisance in one area is by no means necessarily so in another.”

(Veale J at page 151)

“Nevertheless, the plaintiff is entitled, in my judgment, to an injunction, but I limit it to the hours of the present night shift, namely, 10 o’clock at night to 6 o’clock in the morning.”

(Veale J at page 160)

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