Rylands v Fletcher

Word document explaining Rylands v Fletcher.

HideShow resource information
Preview of Rylands v Fletcher

First 613 words of the document:

The definition of RYLANDS is "The person who for his own purposes brings onto his land and collects
and keeps there anything likely to do mischief if it escapes is prima facie liable for all damage which is
the natural consequence if it escapes." As set out by Blackburn J but the House of Lords added that
this only applied when D has made a non-natural use of their land (Lord Cairns).
In CAMBRIDGE WATER COMPNAY v EASTERN COUNTIES LEATHER it was made clear that D will only be
liable for damage that is foreseeable and so the test from WAGONMOUND must be applied.
The rule states that D may be liable if for their own purposes they bring something onto their land.
This is a question of fact based on the circumstances of the case but it appears that D must have
some benefit for example money.
The rule states it must be brought onto the land and this is an artificial accumulation. This shows a
difference between things which grow or occur naturally (GILES v WALKER) where D will not be liable
and things that are artificially accumulated such as vegetation deliberately planted (CROWHURST v
AMERSHAM BURIAL BOARD) water in a reservoir (RYLANDS) and gypsies (AG v CORKE).
Likely to do mischief is another element to the rule and for this is a question of fact based on the
circumstances of the case. Basically it must be something safe provided it does not escape but is
likely to cause damage if it does escape. Some examples include electricity, fire, water that is not in
domestic quantities (TRANSCO v STOCKPORT) and tenants (AG v CORKE).
Escape is "escape from a place D has control over land to a place outside that control" as said by
Viscount Simon in READ v LYON where the D was not liable as there was no escape from the
premises. However moving from one area of a larger place to another area can be an escape as in
HALE v JENNING BROS within the fairground. This has been confirmed by TRANSCO.
A non-natural use has been defined by Lord Moulton as "some special use bringing with it increased
danger to others" in the case of RICKARDS v LOTHIAN. A natural use can be interpreted narrowly
(ordinary in humanity) or broadly (according to nature) however the courts seem to prefer the
narrow use. On the other hand Lord Goff in CAMBRIDE WATER said the storage of substantial
quantities on industrial land should be regarded as almost classic case of non-natural use. But
ultimately in TRANSCO a non-natural use needs to be exceptionally dangerous in extraordinary
The case of TRANSCO has decided that the rule of RYLANDS does not apply to personal injury or
death clearly making this a land based tort. It also held that C needs proprietary rights in order to sue
as in HUNTER.
There are several defences available. Act of a stranger did not apply to RYLANDS as independent
contractors are not strangers and there is some control. The act of the stranger must be
unforeseeable for the defence to apply as shown in PERRY v KENDRICKS TRANSPORT and RICKARDS.
The defence of volenti can apply if C gives either express or implied consent to the dangerous thing
on D's land. In the cases of KIDDLE v CITY BUSINESS PROPERTIES and CARSTAIRS v TAYLOR it was

Other pages in this set

Page 2

Preview of page 2

Here's a taster:

C had consented to the risk and it seems the key factor is if C gets a benefit from D's
accumulation prior to the escape.
The defence of act of God was defined by Lord Westbury in TENNET v EARL OF GLASGOW as
"circumstances no human foresight can provide against and human prudence not bound to recognise
possibility". It must be caused entirely by natural forces with no element of human intervention.…read more


No comments have yet been made

Similar Law resources:

See all Law resources »See all resources »