AQA LAW4 rylands v fletcher notes

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The tort of strict liability comes from Rylands v Fletcher (1868), Blackburn J said that when people bring things
onto their land likely to do mischief if it escapes must keep the thing on their land or will be liable to all the damage
which is of a natural consequence if the thing escapes.
Lord Cairns added to these requirements by saying that the thing brought onto the land must amount to a
`non-natural' use of land.
There are 4 essential elements of Rylands v Fletcher:
1. Brings onto the land (can't claim if something is natural or already there)
2. A thing likely to do mischief if it escapes
3. Which amounts to a non-natural user
4. Which escapes and causes damage
Brings onto the land:
If the thing is already present there is no liability (Pontardawe RDC)
If the thing is already growing on the land there is no liability (Giles v Walker)
Nor can there be liability for something which naturally accumulates on the land (Ellison v The
Ministry of Defence)
It is possible for liability to occur if the danger was known about and nothing was done to prevent it, in other words
it is `adopted' (Leakey v The National Trust)
Likely to cause mischief if it escapes:
It is not the escape which must be likely, just the, mischief if the thing escapes.
Non Natural User:
The concept of non-natural use was explained by Lord Moulton in Rickards v Lothian.
What is considered non-natural use may change over time... in 1919 leaving a car garaged
with petrol in its tank was considered non-natural use in Musgrave v Pandelis. Case law
suggests that non-natural is something more than artificial and refers to the extraordinary use of land.
Therefore things which are associated with domestic use of land will not be classified as non-natural even though
they are artificial e.g. fire in a domestic context is natural (Sochaki v Sas), as well as electric
wiring (Collingwoods v Home and Colonial Stores).
In non-domestic usage it is often the volume, size or quantity which will result in the thing being
classed as a `non-natural' user (Mason v levy Autoparts)
Whatever the thing is, it must do damage off the land (Read v Lyons)

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Personal injury cannot be claimed for and a person without i nterest in land cannot sue (Transco).
1. Statutory authority
Transco confirmed that if something is permitted under an Act of Parliament this may be a defence to an `escape'
2. Act of God
This is used where the defendant has no control over some force of nature (Nichols v
3. Act of a stranger
An unforeseeable act by someone else means the defendant may avoid liability (Rickards v
4.…read more


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