Ng Yuen Han v Lam Fei Fui
Court of Appeal
Civil Appeal No 285 of 2011
Kwan and Chu JJA and Jeremy Poon J
Tort
4 December 2012, 25 March 2013

Nuisance — water seepage —sensitive hearing not typically taken into account

The plaintiff (“P”) owned a third floor flat (“Flat 3A”) in which she had lived with her family since 1996. In March 2008, the defendants (“Ds”) purchased the flat immediately above (“Flat 4A”) and leased it out. P claimed that in 2005, renovations carried out by the previous Flat 4A owner resulted in altered floor slabs and additional water pipes that transmitted loud sounds downstairs. Also, a toilet was constructed above P’s bedroom and water had seeped into her ceiling, parts of which turned black with bubbles.

P sued Ds to solve the issues while seeking damages for repair costs and mental distress. The parties’ joint surveying expert and a Food and Environmental Hygiene Department officer agreed that the problems had deteriorated before Ds purchased Flat 4A and continued until at least August 2009. However, the judge in the lower court, relying on P’s evidence in her statement of claim as to the water seepage, found that it probably ceased shortly after Ds purchased Flat 4A and dismissed P’s claim. P appealed.

Held, allowing the appeal, that, inter alia:

The judge erred in her assessment of the water seepage and that Ds, as the current owners of Flat 4A, were liable for it. Her conclusion was contrary to the joint expert’s evidence, though this went unexplained.

Further, the judge erred in her ruling on noise in that P’s unusually sensitive hearing was not to be taken into account. 

Jurisdictions: 

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