Does anybody know of any cases about the tort of nuisance about internet reception?

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Britishstudent
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I cannot find a single case or even a law journal about the effects of the tort of nuisance on interference with internet reception.

I know there is the case of Hunter v Canary Wharf about television reception but in my personal opinion I think this outdated law and is not appropriate for the 21st century, but I cannot find any case law that suggests otherwise, or even a law journal discussing this!
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nulli tertius
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(Original post by Britishstudent)
I cannot find a single case or even a law journal about the effects of the tort of nuisance on interference with internet reception.

I know there is the case of Hunter v Canary Wharf about television reception but in my personal opinion I think this outdated law and is not appropriate for the 21st century, but I cannot find any case law that suggests otherwise, or even a law journal discussing this!
Saying something is "outdated" is hardly analysis and it is unlikely that the internet currently plays as important part in the life of private individuals (what about businesses?) as television did between the 1960s-1990s when top entertainment shows and first run movies were regularly exceeding 20 million viewers without repeats.

Read the Hunter cases and the cases there cited and go back and argue it from first principles. In other words instead of expecting some academic to have constructed the argument, why don't you do so?
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Britishstudent
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(Original post by nulli tertius)
Saying something is "outdated" is hardly analysis and it is unlikely that the internet currently plays as important part in the life of private individuals (what about businesses?) as television did between the 1960s-1990s when top entertainment shows and first run movies were regularly exceeding 20 million viewers without repeats.

Read the Hunter cases and the cases there cited and go back and argue it from first principles. In other words instead of expecting some academic to have constructed the argument, why don't you do so?
I want to construct the argument, nulli tertius. I am writing an article on this issue to submit to the SJOL hoping for it to be published, but I wanted to check I wasn't going up the wrong route. So, 'in other words', yes, I am constructing my own argument rather than expecting some academic to do it.

Secondly, I don't understand your comment on the point that saying something is outdated 'is hardly analysis'? This is a forum, not an essay? Why would I be analysing an issue on a post like this?

As for your reference to checking the cases cited in Hunter, I take this point on board and thank you for the tip.

Thanks for your help.
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Theflyingbarney
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Just extrapolate Hunter. It's the only case I know of that comes remotely close. There's not always going to be an entirely up-to-date case covering every single technological development, so as long as you haven't found a case going against what an extension of Hunter would suggest, it's still the best authority no matter how old it is.
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Britishstudent
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(Original post by Theflyingbarney)
Just extrapolate Hunter. It's the only case I know of that comes remotely close. There's not always going to be an entirely up-to-date case covering every single technological development, so as long as you haven't found a case going against what an extension of Hunter would suggest, it's still the best authority no matter how old it is.
Thanks for your help!
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nulli tertius
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(Original post by Britishstudent)
I want to construct the argument, nulli tertius. I am writing an article on this issue to submit to the SJOL hoping for it to be published, but I wanted to check I wasn't going up the wrong route. So, 'in other words', yes, I am constructing my own argument rather than expecting some academic to do it.

Secondly, I don't understand your comment on the point that saying something is outdated 'is hardly analysis'? This is a forum, not an essay? Why would I be analysing an issue on a post like this?

As for your reference to checking the cases cited in Hunter, I take this point on board and thank you for the tip.

Thanks for your help.
Can I give you two lines of thought.

What is the interference with the internet? In some way or another it is interference with electro-magnetic waves on a certain spectrum. Bear in mind that light is also an electro-magnetic wave on a different spectrum and there is plenty of case law about interference with light not being a nuisance (cf Ancient Lights).

The sort of interference we are talking about doesn't do any tangible damage to land (for these purposes we can ignore an electro-magnetic pulse weapon). However, nor does smell and that certainly can be the subject of nuisance (I think you should look very carefully at Barr v Biffa Waste). Again, although noise can do physical damage to land (e.g. sonic booms), most of the case law concerns the effect on the user of land. You may want to look at the articles by Norris and by Webb and Ring on private nuisance arising from windfarms in the JPEL.

Obviously there is a difference between interference with electromagnetic waves on the one hand and noise and smell on the other. That is that the former cannot and the latter can be discerned through the senses of an individual. However, think further about the identity of the Claimant. In Hunter it was made clear that the Claimant had to have an interest in land. What about the position of a corporate occupier. Tesco doesn't smell the effects of a nearby waste processing plant though its staff and customers may. Tesco is incapable of discerning the effects, other than the financial effects, of a noxious smell. One can remove this further. British Land has no employees or customers on site. It has merely let a shop to a store chain. It won't even feel any economic pain until the next rent review or when it tries to sell the freehold reversion. If they can sue in nuisance for a something they cannot sense, why can't the owner of a computer sue for interference with electro-magnetic waves that he cannot sense?

One might say that this is because the interference has to be something discernable by a human even if the Claimant is an artificial person. However I think there are cases where the damage relied on is the effect on the Claimant's livestock, not the Claimant. If I can sue because your noise upsets my hens even if it is not enough to upset me, why can't you sue when my actions upset the signal to your computer?

Is nuisance essentially trespassary? Does it depend on an Aristotelian idea of matter; that a "thing"; a noise, a smell, a vibration is wrongly brought onto my land. There are very few nuisance cases that do not involve something coming onto the victim's land. If so, that might explain Hunter. In Hunter, the Defendant's building blocked the electro-magnetic waves from getting to the Claimant's property. Would the result have been the same if the Defendant had produced its own waves that went onto the Claimant's property and blocked the signal to the Claimant's TV? You can find a few private nuisance cases that are not trespassary but not many and they may be aberrant. Although there was a trespassary act in British Celanese v Hunt, it wasn't onto the Claimant's land. Am I entitled to prevent your customers reaching your premises? I could build a more attractive shop and sell goods at cheaper prices on my land between your store and where the customers live? Is that a nuisance? What if I keep a pack of savage dogs on my property. The dogs are kept secure, but fear of them escaping deters your customers from coming to your shop? Is that a nuisance? If I can do something on my land which deters people from going to your store, why can't I do things on my land, such as build an 800 foot skyscraper, that deters electro-magnetic waves from going to your television or your computer?

Secondly, you need to think about breach of statutory duty. The Wireless Telegraphy Acts and the regulations made under them and The Electromagnetic Compatibility Regulations 2006 create regimes about what you can and can't do equipment that creates electro-magnetic effects. Do they or some of them create a duty actionable at the suit of someone whose computer is interfered with? What about section 3 of the Computer Misuse Act 1990? Would that cover building a skyscraper with intent to block a wifi signal? The fact that planning permission was given for the skyscraper doesn't help with "unauthorised". The definition is in section 17. If you said that the developer doesn't intend to block the wifi signal, he intends to make squillions by building a skyscraper and letting it to a bank, think on the tests of intention and foresight in R v Moloney and R v Woollin. Is breach of section 3 actionable as a breach of statutory duty?
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