The claimant's house was subject to flooding from the river Torridge in Devon. He argued that the flooding was caused by the Taddiport bridge, since the arches and plinths of the bridge restricted the flow of water under it. The claimant claimed that such restriction was a statutory nuisance.

He maintained that Devon County Council was responsible and engaged in efforts to persuade the District Council to serve an abatement notice under the Environmental Health Act 1990 on Devon County Council in order that the County Council would undertake remedial works to prevent or minimise the risk of future flooding.

Section 259(1)(b) of the Public Health Act 1936 provides that a statutory nuisance exists for the purposes of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 where:

"Any part of a watercourse … is so choked or silted up as to obstruct or impede the proper flow of water and thereby cause a nuisance."

The issue was whether the word "choked" in the Public Health Act was capable in law of including an obstruction to the proper flow of a river by a bridge constructed in or over it. The claimant applied for a declaration that it did.