Quia Timet

In Fletcher v. Bealey (1884) 28 Ch. D. 688 a quia timet action was asked for to interdict the tort of nuisance in order to prevent noxious liquid from flowing into a river. Pearson, J. after referring to earlier Judgments on quia timet action then held:

I do not think, therefore, that I shall be very far wrong if I lay it down that there are at least two necessary ingredients for a quia timet action. There must, if no actual damage is proved, be proof of imminent danger, and there must also be proof that the apprehended damage will, if it comes, be very substantial. I should almost say it must be proved that it will be irreparable, because, if the danger is not proved to be so imminent that no one can doubt that, if the remedy is delayed, the damage will be suffered, I think it must be shewn that, if the damage does occur at any time, it will come in such a way and under such circumstances that it will be impossible for the plaintiff to protect himself against it if relief is denied to him in a quia timet action.”

This statement of the law has subsequently been followed by recent English decisions reported as London Borough of Islington v. Margaret Elliott, [2012] EWCA Civ. 56 [Paragraph 30] and Vastint Leeds BV v. Persons Unknown, [2018] EWHC 2456 (Ch.) in which a quia timet injunction was described in the following terms:

Gee, Commercial Injunctions, 6th Edition, 2016 describes a quia timet injunction in the following terms: “A quia timet (since he fears) injunction is an injunction granted where no actionable wrong has been committed, to prevent the occurrence of an actionable wrong, or to prevent repetition of an actionable wrong.””

The decision in Fletcher was referred to in approval in Paragraph 30 of the aforesaid Judgment. The decision in Fletcher was also referred to by this Court in Kuldip Singh v. Subhash Chander Jain, (2000) 4 SCC 50.”

Hon’ble Justice R.F. Nariman, Keisham Meghachandra Singh v. The Hon’ble Speaker, Manipur Legislative Assembly, [Civil Appeal No. 547 of 2020].

Also see, Ratnagiri Nagar Parishad v. Gangaram Narayan Ambekar, [Civil Appeal No. 2412 of 2020] decided on 06.05.2020.