A Tipperary stud farm took a case in the High Court against the operator of an adjacent motor raceway (the "Raceway") alleging that an increase in the activity and noise being carried out by the Raceway had a significant impact on its stud farm business. The stud farm claimed that the Raceway was acting in breach of its planning permission due to a significant intensification of use of the circuit and that the manner in which the Raceway was being operated constituted a private nuisance. A private nuisance in Irish law means an unreasonable interference with a person's land or their use and enjoyment of that land.
Evidence was given in the High Court explaining the detrimental effect the noise had on horses at the stud farm. The High Court found in favour of the stud farm and ordered that the Raceway be bound by the terms of its 1981 planning permission, thereby restricting its hours of operation. The High Court granted a further injunction in the same terms in respect of the nuisance.
The Raceway appealed to the Supreme Court. In particular, they challenged the formulation of the injunctions ordered by the High Court, arguing that no distinction was made by the trial judge between the aspects of the injunction in relation to the breach of planning permission on the one hand and the claim of nuisance on the other.
While agreeing that there was ample evidence to justify a finding of breach of planning laws and a finding of nuisance, the Supreme Court held that the High Court injunction was wrongly formulated. In particular, in respect of the nuisance finding, the Supreme Court held that it was incorrect for the injunction to refer to the 1981 planning permission, rather than setting out what it was necessary to do to ameliorate the nuisance.
The matter was remitted back to the High Court to formulate a suitable injunction.
The Supreme Court stated that the decision should not prevent the High Court from granting an injunction based on nuisance in similar terms to those overturned by the Supreme Court, provided it dealt with ameliorating the nuisance. In addition, the Supreme Court did not exclude the possibility of a planning injunction being reinstated.
The Supreme Court granted an interim injunction prohibiting drifting (a form of motor racing) at the Raceway until the High Court has the opportunity to consider the appropriate form of injunctive relief to put in place on a permanent basis.