Common-Enemy Doctrine Law and Legal Definition

Common enemy doctrine refers to a legal principle whereby a landowner may repel surface waters as necessary (as during a flood), without having to consider the consequences to other landowners. This doctrine is generally applied to urban areas and gives an individual landowner the unqualified right to dispose of water. The underlying theory is that these waters are the common enemy of man to be fought off by each property owner as he/she sees fit. According to this common law theory, water could be disposed of without regard to the consequences to adjoining landowners.