Explain the legal principles applicable in each of the cases listed below:
(i) B entered into C‟s land to recover a time rabbit which belonged to B‟s children.
(ii) H pasted a poster on D‟s wall advertising a disco-dance competition meant for raising funds for a local charity.
(iii) F cut down the branches of a mango tree belonging to G, his neighbour, which had extended to his land. He picked the ripe mangoes from the fallen branches and gave all of them to children in his vicinity. (5 marks)
• The entry B into Cs land is unauthorized the reason for the entry not withstanding and amounts to trespass to land. It is evident that B has made an intrusion on the Cs land. There is a direct infringement of the plaintiffs possession.
• C has an action in damages against B and since the tort of trespass to land is actionable perse C is not obliged to proof any actual damage.
• Cs action is based on the premise that Bs entry into his land was unjustified. Judicial authority on this point is very clear i.e. a person cannot justify entering the land of another against his will for the purpose of reclaiming anything that has escaped from its enclosure (Keavry V. Pattinson(1939) or (Dean V. Clayton (1817).
• The pasting of the poster H on Ds wall amounts to trespass to land for which D has an action in damages. This is because the wall in question is part of Ds land and the pasting of the poster on the was is a direct infringement of the plaintiffs possession. At common law it is trespass to place anything on or inland in the possession of another for example placing rubbish against the wall or growing a creeper up the wall of another (Simpson V. Weber(1925).
• The over hanging branches on Fs land constituted the tort of nuisance which is not actionable per se.
• In this case F was entitled to cut down the overhanging branches of the mango tree to abate the nuisance. But F did something more in that he gave away all the ripe mangoes from the fallen branches to children.
• The legal principle in this case is that whereas the branches overhanging Fs land amounted to nuisance and F did the needful cutting them down the ripe mangoes from the branches belonged to G and giving them away amounted to conversion for which G has an action against him in damages.
This position is consistent with the common law which postulates that where overhanging branches of fruit trees extend beyond the boundary of the owners land, a neighbour, though entitled to lop the overhanging branches is guilty of conversion should he appropriate the fruit growing thereon. (Mills V. Booker (1919).