Disadvantages of legislation
The fate of environmental litigation in Budden v BP Oil and Shell Oil (1980) 124 SJ 376 amply demonstrates the inherent difficulties of actions in nuisance and negligence for damage suffered as a result of environmental harm. The plaintiff claimed damages, alleging nuisance and negligence, for harm alleged to have been suffered as a result of lead pollution caused by emissions from petrol during the refining process. The defendants applied to have the action struck out as disclosing no reasonable cause of action. It was clear from the evidence that the plaintiff had suffered no more harm than any other small child living near a main road might suffer and thus no claim in nuisance could lie. The court of appeal rule accepted the argument put forward by the defendants that they had complied with the relevant statutory provision under the Control of Pollution Act 1974 thus the statutory standard establishes the common law standard. Thus the action in negligence also failed because the defendant companies had at all times complied with the regulations laid down by the secretary of state under the Control of Pollution Act 1974. This case shows how legislation can have an adverse effect on pollution control because if legislation sets a certain standard that turns out to be too great and leads to environmental damage then the common law cannot be used as an alternative.
The development of the law of torts has been ad hoc and is largely dependent on the claimant having an interest in the land to protect and the financial resources to engage litigation. Lord Goff of Chieveley said that although environmental protection was a matter of crucial importance, the role of the courts is very much secon...
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Common law informed much of today Statutory law,this means for example,we are accustomed to think of crime being prohibited by the Crime Act or the Criminal Law Act,but this is not entirely true. Most Acts that have been deemed criminal or civil for that matter were created in Common Law and that mean simply that they have a historical basis to them and this includes murder,robbery,conspiracy etc.. The parliament did not simply pass a Statute saying these Acts are criminal for example, but judges decided these Acts were criminal on the basis of English custom following which Parliament codified these crimes within the Acts. So,what we see is not that the Parliament decided that robbery is a crime,yes we do have this within the Act but in fact the understanding of robbery was elaborated by the judges in Common Law, which makes the Common law of greater importance.
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