Coventry v Lawrence: more flexibility about awarding damages over injunction

By Robin Biela and Sarah Moore

Following a benchmark Supreme Court ruling (Coventry v Lawrence [2014] UKSC 13), fewer injunctions can be expected to remedy infringements of property rights. While the case concerned a complaint about noise nuisance, the judgment is relevant to all property rights and in particular whether the court will award damages instead of an injunction where a developer infringes a neighbour’s right of light.

The case strongly criticises the recent tendency to mechanically apply existing principles and award an injunction rather than damages. Instead, the Supreme Court endorsed a more flexible approach when awarding a remedy. If the approach suggested by the Supreme Court is adopted in practice, it is likely that fewer injunctions will be granted and that damages will become a more common alternative remedy. This represents a departure from a severe judicial trend to award injunctions even when the loss suffered is slight and the impact on the wrongdoer is severe (HKRUK II (CHC) Ltd v Heaney [2010] EWHC 2245 Ch).

Coventry was the lessee of a stadium near Lawrence’s house. Planning permission was granted for ‘speedway racing and associated facilities’ to Coventry’s predecessor in title in 1975. Stock-car racing began on Coventry’s land in 1984, which was not a permitted action under the 1975 planning permission. It was submitted by Coventry that these actions had become immune from planning control after 10 years of operation; however, the operations in the stadium created noise that could be heard by local residents…

Click on the link below to read the rest of the Nabarro briefing.

Briefings from Nabarro

View more briefings from Nabarro

Analysis from The Lawyer

View more analysis from The Lawyer


Lacon House
84 Theobald's Road

Turnover (£m): 116.30
No. of Lawyers: 360