Bradford Corporation v Pickles [1895] AC 587

Key point


  • The Corporation of Bradford (C) sought to restrain Mr. Pickles (D) from sinking a shaft on his land as, according to their view, D’s object in sinking the shaft was to draw away water which would otherwise come into their reservoirs
  • D was alleged to have been acting maliciously, his sole object being to do harm to the C

Held (House of Lords)

  • Appeal dismissed; C’s claim to restrain D was denied
  • C had a legal right to take such action on his property and C’s motive is immaterial

Lord Halsbury L.C.

  • ‘This is not a case in which the state of mind of the person doing the act can affect the right to do it. If it was a lawful act, however ill the motive might be, he had a right to do it. If it was an unlawful act, however good his motive might be, he would have no right to do it.’


  • Later in Hollywood Silver Fox Farm v Emmett [1936] 2 KB 468 it was held that maliciousness can be taken into account in assessing nuisance
  • Bradford v Pickles can be distinguished on the ground that preventing the percolation of water is not a form of actionable nuisance