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There are 2 acts of parliament which deal with the liability of occupiers for their premises; the Occupiers Liability Act
1957 and 1984 (OLA).
The 1957 act is concerned with the duty owed to visitors, whereas the 1984 act is concerned with the duty owed to
non-visitors, sometimes called trespassers.
Whichever act applies, the following definitions apply:
Occupier: the person who has control of the land or buildings or the person who has possession. There
may be more than one occupier (Wheat v Lacon)
Premises: the land or buildings which are occupied. This also includes structures e.g. grandstands, or
moving structures such as vehicles (Wheeler v Copas)
The Occupiers Liability Act 1957 VISITORS
A lawful visitor is anyone who is present on the premises by the occupier's invitation, or with the occupiers express or
implied permission, or in the exercise of a legal right.
Visitors according to S1(2) include:
Invited people e.g. friends or workmen giving quotes
Licensees such as customers
Those entering under a contractual agreement
Those not requiring permission to enter because of legal rights such as meter readers or police
A person using a public right of way is not a visitor and would need to pursue and action in negligence.
An occupier can place time, place of purpose of the visit (The Calgarth).
Duty of Care S2(1)
The occupier owes all visitors a `common duty of care'. He must take reasonable care of his visitors and S2(2) states
that this can be achieved either by making the premises reasonable safe or giving effective warning of dangers
(Staples v West Dorset Council).
Special Categories of Visitors
An occupier owes a special duty of care to children and expects children to be less
careful than adults a warning sufficient for adults may not be sufficient for children
and an occupier may be liabile if they fail to protect children from hidden dangers or
allurement such as machinery (Glasgow Corporation v Taylor).
An occupier is however, entitles to assume that very small children will be accompanied by a responsible adult
(Phipps v Rochester Corporation)
Persons with a special skill S2(3)(b) injures themselves
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If a person enters premises in the exercise of their calling and suffers an injury connected with his trade, the occupier
might expect the person to be aware of dangers inherent in their trade and the occupier may not be liabile for such
injuries (Roles v Nathan)
Independent Contractors S2(4)(b) injures another person
If the occupier hires an independent contractor to carry out work on their premises, the
occupier will not be liable for injuries caused to visitors by the independent contractor