The ruling stemmed from a 1994 class action lawsuit covering 2,000 people near Quebec City who complained about the dust and smell of a local cement plant for nearly 50 years. The justices ruled that while there was no evidence of legal wrong-doing by the cement plant, they still must “based on the annoyances suffered by the victim being excessive, rather than on the conduct of the person who allegedly caused them.”[social_buttons]
“Even though it appears to be absolute, the right of ownership has limits,” reads the 6-0 decision, adding that the plaintiffs “do not require evidence of wrongful conduct to establish the liability of an owner who has caused excessive neighborhood annoyances.”
The ruling promises to be a strong tool for those working for environmental justice within Quebec and possibly other parts of Canada.
“It is going to make it much easier for citizens to make environmental-nuisance complaints,” said Will Amos, a lawyer for the group Ecojustice. “They are not going to have to prove fault or wrongdoing. They have only to prove that an abnormal annoyance occurred. That is absolutely critical.”