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In its most general sense, 'nuisance' is any interference with a person's right to peaceful pursuit of his legitimate interests, but which is not intentional enough to amount to a Trespass. When lawyers -- particular tort lawyers -- speak of nuisance, they usually mean private nuisance, but the law recognizes serveral categories of nuisance, all of which tend to overlap with other areas of law.
- Private nuisance is the interference with the claimant's peaceful enjoyment of his property. The nuisance must generally be sustained or repeated, and the claimant must have possession of property in the area of the nuisance. This meta of nuisance overlaps withtrespass to land but, unlike that tort, it need not be intentional -- a nuisance can merely be careless.
- Public nuisance is the interference with the legitimate pursuits of the public as a whole. Many public nuisances, such as obstruction of the highway, also amount to crimes.
- Statutory nuisance is something defined to be a nuisance by a specific piece of legislation. For example, there is a large body of legislation on control of waste and pollution, in which the responsibility for enforcement is given to local authorities.