Environmental pollution has been a bane to societal development, and its fast rising downwards effect can be felt on a global scale. The case of Ryland’s v fletcher is one that should be applauded for the decision of the court which vehemently criticized environmental pollution. This is a step in the right direction, from a vast research, it was gathered that our environment need a high level of protection because the environment is a foundation for every societal growth and development. Take for example crop yields. The methodology adopted in this work is an analytic enquiry into the multi famous environmental laws we have in the country and how best they have remedied the situation. Also a board insight was made into the case of Ryland’s v Fletcher and how the decision in that case can be brought to bear in addressing what we have before us. It was discovered that the laws are there, but a sticker mode of implementation should be adopted for co-operation. To a successful completion of this work, statutes, case laws, journals, internet sources and a host of other sources form the embellishment of this work.




Tittle                                                                                                                                        i

Approval                                                                                                                                 ii

Certification                                                                                                                            iii

Dedication                                                                                                                              iv

Acknowledgements                                                                                                                v

Abstract                                                                                                                                  vi

Table of Contents                                                                                                                   vii

Table of Cases                                                                                                                         ix

Table of Statutes                                                                                                                     x

List of Abbreviations                                                                                                              xi



1.1       Background of the Study                                                                                           1

1.2       Statement of Problem                                                                                                 2

1.3       Purpose of Study                                                                                                        2

1.4       Scope of Study                                                                                                           3

1.5       Significance of Study                                                                                                 3

1.6       Methodology                                                                                                              4

1.7       Definition of Terms                                                                                                    4


2.1       Tort of Nuisance:                                                                                                        7

  • Tort of Negligence 12
  • Comparison of Nuisance and Negligence with Strict Liability with Respect to Control of Environmental Pollution 16


3.1       Decision of the Court                                                                                                 20

3.2       Application of the Rule in Ryland’s v Fletcher                                                         22

3.3       Bringing Things on Land                                                                                           23

3.4       Escape                                                                                                                        29


4.1       The Rule as Applicable in England                                                                             32

4.2       Application of the Rule in Canada                                                                             34

4.3       Application of the Rule in India                                                                                 36

4.4       Application of the Rule in Nigeria                                                                              38

4.5       Factors Militating against the Application of the Rule in Environmental Litigation in Nigeria                                                                                 40



5.1       Conclusion                                                                                                                  44

5.2       Suggestion and Recommendations



Abelson v Brickman (1890) 54 J. p. 119                                                                                20

A.G. Federation v A.G. Abia State [2001] II NWLR Pt. 159                                                           32

Attorney General v Cory Bros. (1921] A.C. 521, 539 at 544                                                19

Balfour v Barty-King [1957] I Q.B. 496                                                                                24

Bartlett v Tottenham (1932) 1 Ch. 114 at p. 131                                                                   13

Batcheller v Turnbridge Wells Gas Co. (1910) 84 L.T. 765                                                   13

Box v Jubb (1879) 4 Ex. D. 76                                                                                               23

British Celanese Ltd. v Hunt [1969] I W.L.R. 959 at p. 963                                                 15

Burnic Port Authority v General Jones Pty Ltd (1994) 120 A.L.R. 42                                 19

Cambridge Water Co. Ltd. v Eastern Countries Leather Plc. [1994] 2 A.C. 264                  17

Carstairs v Taylor (1871) L.P. 6 Ex. 219                                                                                20

Collingwood v Home and Colonial stores Ltd (1956) 3 All E.R. 200                                   15

Crowhurst v Amershan Burial Board (1878)4 Ex. D. 5                                                         14

Crowhurst v Amershan Burial Board (1878)4 Ex. D. 5                                                         14

Domain Gas Co. v Collins [1909]A.C. 640                                                                            23

Dunn v Birmingham Canal Co. (1872) L.R. 7 Q.B. 244 at p. 260                                         21

Dunn v North Western Gas Board [1964] 2 Q.B. 806                                                           22

Eastern and Southern African Telegraph Co. v Cape Town Tramways Co. Ltd.

[1902] A.C. 381                                                                                                             21

Giles v Walker (1890) 62 L. T. 933                                                                                        14

Green v Chelsea Waterworks(1891)All E.R. 543                                                                   25

Greenock Corp. v Caledonian Ry. [1917] A.C. 556                                                              23

Hale v Jennings Bros. [1988] I All E.R. 579                                                           15,16,24,25

Ige v Taylor – Woodrow (Nig.) Ltd. [1963] L.L.R. 140                                                        21

Indian Council for Enviro Legal Action v Union of India Air (1996) S.C. 1446                  45

Jones v Festiniogs Ry. (1868) L.R. 3 Q.B. 733                                                                      25

Madras Railway Co. v Zamindar (1974) I A. 364                                                                  44

Marldraj v Texaco Trinidad Inc. (1969) 15 W.I.R. 251                                                         23

Matheson vNorthcote College (1975) 2 N.Z.L.R. 106                                                           15

M.C. Mehta v Union of India Air (1987) S.C.R. (I) 819                                                       45

Midwood v Manchester corp. [1905] 2 K.B. 577                                                                  16

Mihalchuk v Ratke (1966) 57 D.L.R. (2d) 269                                                                      15

Morebishe v Lagos State House of Assembly [2000] 3 W.R.N. 134                                     38

MTN Nigeria Communications Ltd. v GaniyuSadiku (2013) L.P.E.L.R. 21105 (CA)         41

Musgrove v Pandelis (1919) 2. K.B. 43                                                                       13,15,44

National oil and Chemical Marketing Plc. v KamardeenLeyeAdewusi and ors

(2007) LPELR – 8866 (CA)                                                                                          41

National Telephone Co. v Baker (1895) 2 Ch. 186                                                                24

NEPA v Akpata (1919)2 NWLR pt. 175 p. 536 C.A                                                                        40

NEPA v Alli (1992) 8 NWLR pt. 259 p. 279 S.C.                                                                 41

Nichols v Marshland (1876) 2 Ex. D.I.                                                                                  22

Noble v Harrison [1928] 2 K.B. 332                                                                                      15

North Western Utilities Ltd. v London Guarantee and Accident Co Ltd.

[1936] A.C. 108                                                                                                             15

Oladehin v Continental Textile Mills Ltd. (1975) CCHCJ 1269                                           13

Omotayov Arbuckle Smith and Co. (1954) in W.A.C.A 515 at p. 518                                 22

Perry v Kendricks Transport [1956] I W.L.R. 85                                                             19, 42

Pontadawe R .D. C v Moore-Gwynne [1929] I Ch. 656                                                       14

Ponting v Noakes [1894] 2 Q.B. 281                                                                                     16

Rainham  Chemical Works Ltd. v Belvedere Fish Guana Co. (1921) A.C. 465               13,42

Read v Lyons [1947] A.C. 156 at P. 176                                                                   14, 15, 18

Rickards v Lothian (1915) A.C. 263 at p. 229                                                                14, 15

Ross v Dow Chemicals                                                                                                           33

Rouse v Gravelworks Ltd. [1940] I K.B. 489                                                                                    15

Ruddinnan v Smith (1889) 60 L.T. 708                                                                                 20

Ryland v Fletcher (1868) L.R. 3 H.L. 330                                                                          5, 7,

Scythes and Co. Ltd. v Gibsons Ltd [1927] S.C.R. 352                                                        31

SedleighDenfield v O’ Callaghan [1940] A.C. 880 H.L.                                                       19

Shell Petroleum Dev. CO (Nig.) Ltd. v Abel Isaiah (2001) 5 S.C. 93 at 97                          36

Shell Petroleum Dev. CO (Nig.) Ltd. v Amaro (2000) 10 NWLR pt. 675, 248                    41

Shell Petroleum Dev. Co. (Nig.) Ltd v Chief Otoko and ors (1990)

6 NWLR pt. 159 at 693                                                                                                 40

Smeatonv Ilford Corp (1954) 1 Ch. 450                                                                                25

Smith v Kenrick (1849) 7 C.B. 515                                                                                        12

St. Anne’s Well Brewery Co. v Roberts (1928) 140 L.T.I. 6                                                 11

Stannard v Gore (2012) JEWCA Civ. 128 (Judgments 4.10.12)                                     13, 43

Texaco Panama Inc. v Shell Petroleum Development Co. Ltd.

[2002] F.W.L.R. pt. 96 at 579                                                                                       30

The Mostyn [1928] A.C. 57 t p. 39                                                                                        23

Transco Plc. V Stockpot Metropolitan Borough Council (2003) UKHL 61                    43, 44

Umudje v Shell B.P. (Nig.) Ltd. (1975) II S.C 158 at p. 160                                                  13, 16,32

Vaughan v Mealove (1837) 132 E.R. 490                                                                              42

Willson v Waddell (1876) 2 A.C. 95                                                                                      14

Wise Brothers v Commissioner for Railways (1974) 75 C.L.R. 59                                        15







Associated Gas Re-injection Act 1992 Cap A 25 LFN, 2004

Anambra State Tort Law

Federal Environment Protection Agency Act Cap 131 LFN, 1990

Harmful West (Special Criminal Provision) Decree No. 58 of 1989.

National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcements Agency (Establishment) Act, NESREA 2007

Oil in Navigable Waters Act Cap 337 LFN 1990

Oil Terminal Dues Act, 1990 Cap 339 LFN 1990

The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) 2010

The Criminal Code Act Cap C38 LFN 2004



A.C                 – Appeal Cases

A.L.R.             – Appeal Law Report

All ER             – All England Reports

CA                  – Court of Appeal Cases

CCHCJ           – Cyclosized Copies of the High Court Judgments

CFC                – Chloro-fluoro Carbons

CFRN             – Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria

Ch.                  – Chancery Law Reports

E.R                  – English Reports

ENGO             – Environmental Non-governmental Organization

EWCACiv      – Court of Appeal of England and Wales, Civil Division

Ex.D                – Exchequer Division

FEPA              – Federal Environmental Protection Agency

FWLR             – Federal Weekly Law Reports

J.P                   – Justice of the Peace

K.B                 – King’s Bench Law Reports

L.L.R              – Lagos Law Reports

L.P.E.L.R        – Law Pavilion Electronic Law Reports

L.R                  – Law Reports

L.R. Ex.          – Law Reports of Exchequer

L.T                  – Law Times Reports

LFN                – Laws of the Federation

N.Z.L.R          – New Zealand Law Reports

NESREA        – National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcements Agency

NGO               – Non-governmental Organization

NWLR                        – Nigeria Weekly Law Reports

PIB                  – Petroleum Industrial Bill

Q.B                 – Queen’s Bench Law Reports

S.C.                 – Supreme Court

S.C.R              – Supreme Court Reports

UKHL             – House of Lords United Kingdom

W.A.C.A         – West African Court of Appeal

W.I.R              – West Indian Reports

W.L.R             – Weekly Law Report

W.R.N             – Weekly Reports of Nigeria





1.1       Background of Study

Nigeria as a nation has been identified as the biggest black nation in the world with an official population of proximally 140 million by the official report from National Population Commission of Nigeria in 2006. In 2015 there has been an increase in human population in Nigeria. Nigeria has an approximated human population of 180 million. Nigeria from staid data is expected to be among the world’s fastest growing economy 2012.

Nigeria through signatory of some multilateral treaties like the United Nations conference on the human environment and was attendant to some united nation organized conference like the 1948 united nation declaration of human right, did not come up with a viable environmental policy or strong legal framework for the protection of her environment until the infortune incidence of dumping of toxic waste from Italy at koko port in the then Bendel state : 1988 it is  the light of this reality that very interesting strides were taken by the Nigeria government in the late 1980’s to propel Nigeria in the enviable direction of posture environmental protection management and regulation towards suitable development.

In Nigeria the activities of oil multinationals especially in the one rich Niger-delta region and also the activities of mining companies in the solid minerals rich in the solid northern region has been sweating affecting the economics base of the people and their source of livelihood. This has engendered poverty and rescue situation in the region. For instance the issues of oil spillage has been a reoccurring one affecting advancement in Niger-delta environment between 1976 and 2009, an estimated 9,1911,426 barrel of crude oil were spilled into the environment in Niger-delta with at least 55% into rivers, 45% into farm lands, residential villages, communal access roads and sources of drinking water. Most of the oil spillage is caused by rupturing of very old pipeline some of which have not been replaced more than 40 years.

However, the major environmental problem in Nigeria which include oil spillage, deforestation and associated soil erosion, ozone layer depletion, desertification, acid deposition, global warming, oil pollution amongst other crisis as a result of the  ineffective enforcement of the environmental law. This ineffectiveness is ascribed to some challenges of enforcement which rains from road conflict, environment management, corruption and bad governance prevalent in the country to the degree of inadequate enforcement facilities. This project focused on strategies that will increases the efficiency of environmental regulation and ensure the increase.

1.2       Statement of the Problem

The issue that present itself for discussion here is in relation to environmental pollution, which is an epidemic menace to the society. And to a large extent it is a cause for global concern. Properties, investments, crop yield suffer from this environmental pollution, hence the essence of a research on the subject matter at the floor of examination.

1.3       Purpose of Study

The study has both general and specific purposes. The general purpose of this study is to examine how tortious liabilities can be used to control environmental pollution in Nigeria. The specific purposes of this work are as follows:

  1. To have an indept study of what environmental pollution constitutes and the types of the environmental pollution.
  2. To examine the rule in the famous case of Ryland’s v Fletcher which bothers on strict liability in relation to the control of environmental pollution.
  3. To find out how this rule can be duly applied to the Nigerian legal system in a bid to tackle environmental pollution.
  4. To find out the impact of environmental pollution on the survival of the affected masses and why it should be checked.

1.4       Significance of Study

This study has both theoretical and practical significance. Theoretically, the significance of this study is that it will add to the already existing literature on the issue of environmental pollution, its impacts and control. This development may contribute to addressing the problem hoped to be tackled by this research work.

Practically, this study may assist the National Assembly and State Houses of Assembly to enact more laws bothering on the issue of environmental pollution and prescribing strict liability for its perpetrators. Furthermore, it will provide an awareness on the problem of environmental pollution and also protect a means of tackling it.

1.5       Scope of Study

The study is limited in scope to examining how the rule in Ryland’s v Fletcher will be a remedy for the control of environmental pollution in Nigeria. However, torts like nuisance, negligence, and strict liability will be discussed in the work with a view to tackling the problem of environmental pollution.


1.6       Methodology 

The research methodology used in this work is doctrinal. It involves the analysis of case laws, arrangement and systematizing of legal propositions through legal reasoning or rational deduction. The relation and authorities relied upon for the work have primary and secondary sources. In this light, the provisions of the Anambra State Torts law alongside other laws or Acts and decided cases do from the primary sources of the work. The sources of this work include materials on the internet, law journals and articles amongst others.

Primary Sources: The Federal Environmental Protection Agency Act cap. Fio, LFN, 2004, the petroleum Act (Drilling and Production Regulations) cap. P10, LFN, 2004. The Associated Gas Re-injection act, cap. A25, LFN, 2004.

1.7       Definition of Terms

1.7.1    Environment

According to Black’s Law Dictionary 6th Edition, environment is the totality of physical, economic, cultural, aesthetic and social circumstance and factors which surround and affect the desirability and value of property and which also affect the quality of people’s lives.

The Cambridge Encyclopedia, 1992 defines environment as the condition and influences of the place in which an organism lives.

The Federal Environmental Protection Agency (FEPA)Actdefines environment as including water, air, land and all plants and human beings or animals living there in and the inter­relationship which exists among these or any of them.

According to the National Environmental Standard Regulation Enforcement (Establishment) Agency Act (NESREA)Environment includes water, air, land and all plants and human beings or animals living therein and the inter-relationships which exist among these or any of them.

From these definitions, it can be deduced that everything in our surrounding which directly or indirectly affect and determine our lives constitute our environment. It is the basic necessity for human, plant and animal existence.

1.7.2    Pollution

Pollution means man-made or man-aided alteration of chemical, physical or biological quality of the environment beyond acceptable limits.[1]

Wikipediadefined pollution as the introduction of contaminants into the environment that causes adverse change. It means to corrupt or defile; especially to contaminate the soil, air or water with noxious substances.[2]

1.7.3    Harmful Waste

According to section 15 Harmful Wastes (Special Criminal Provision, etc.) Act Cap 49, 1988harmful waste means any injurious, poisonous, toxic or notorious substance and in particular, incudes nuclear waste emitting any radioactive substance if the waste is in such quantity, whether with any other consignment of the same or different substance, as to subject any person to the risk of death, fatal injury or incurable impairment of physical and mental health, and the fact that the harmful waste is place in a container shall not by itself be taken to exclude any risk which might be expected to arise from the harmful waste.

1.7.4    Hazardous Substance

According to section 37 NESREA Act, 2007, hazardous substance means any chemical, physical or biological and radioactive material that poses a threat to human health and the environment or any such substance regulated under international conventions to which Nigeria is a party or signatory e.g. Montreal Protocol Rotterdam Convention, Stockholm Convention etc. and includes any substance designated as such by the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria by order published in the Federal Gazette.