Liability for Animals

liability for animals cases and statutes

  • Created by: Laura
  • Created on: 13-06-11 07:57

Liability for Animals

Liability for animals is governed by....

1 of 28

Liability for Animals

The Animals Act 1971

A person who keeps a dangerous animal has strict liability for any damage caused by that animal, without requirement to prove fault

A person who keeps a non-dangerous animal will only be liable if the animal has given cause to fear it has unusual characteristics which make it potentially dangerous

2 of 28

Liability for Animals

Who is liable?

3 of 28

Liability for Animals

The 'keeper' of the animal may be liable for any damage caused.

Under section (3) of the Act, a person is a keeper if:

a) They own the animal or have it in their posession OR

b) They are the head of a household of which a member under 16 owns the animal or has it in their posession

4 of 28

Liability for Animals

Which animals are dangerous?

5 of 28

Liability for Animals

Under section 6(2) of the Act, a dangerous species is a species:

a) which is not commonly domesticated in the British Islands AND

b) Whose fully grown aminals normally have such characteristics that they are likely, unless restrained, to cause severe damage, or any damage caused is likely to be severe

Behrens v Bertram Mills Circus

When a circus elephant injured C it was said that it was irrelevant the animal was as docile as a domestic cow

Due to their size, any damage caused by elephants is likely to be severe, and therefore they are dangerous

6 of 28

Liability for Animals



7 of 28

Liability for Animals

If all parts of section 2(2) are satisfied, the animal is covered by the Act:

Section 2(2)

a) the damage is of a kind likely to be caused by the animal if unrestrained, or if caused by that type of animal is likely to be severe

b) the likelihood of the damage being caused or being severe is due to characteristics peculiar to the animal in question which are either not common to that species or only common at particular times

c) the particular characteristics of the animal causing damage were known to the keeper

8 of 28

Liability for Animals


 of 2(2)a

9 of 28

Liability for Animals

Smith v Ainger

D's dog (alsation cross) had history of attacking other dogs. When it attacked C's dog, C was knocked over and broke his leg. CA held that 'likely' meant such as might well happen and held it was likely the owner of a dog being attacked might intervene so the damage was of a kind likely to be caused by the alsation.

Curtis v Betts

C (aged 11) attacked by a bull mastiff weighing 70kg. The child knew the dog and called to him then the dog leapt at the child biting him on the face. As a bull mastiff breed, if he did bite anyone, the damage was likely to be severe.

10 of 28

Liability for Animals


of 2(2)b

11 of 28

Liability for Animals

damage caused by permanent abnormal characteristics (e.g. speedy tortoise) OR temporary normal characteristics (e.g. animal protecting young)

Mirvahedy v Henley

Montorist injured when collided with escaped horse. Horse displayed temporary characteristics because of dear of being loose. Keeper liable even though didn't know of precise circumstances as characteristics normal to breed in specific circumstances & keper would know this

Gloster v Chief Constable of Greater Manchester

German sheperd trained by police mistakenly bit policeman after warning shouted the dog would be let loose on car thief. Court held that damage caused by training NOT characteristic - Policy reasons? don't want to prevent police dog handlers from doing job?

12 of 28

Liability for Animals


of 2(2)c

13 of 28

Liability for Animals

Keeper required to have actual knowledge of animal's characteristics - not sufficient they ought to have known

Not vital that keeper knew the precise circumstances in which the characteristics arose (Mirvahedy)

14 of 28

Liability for Animals

AO2 for

Section 2(2)

15 of 28

Liability for Animals

2(2)a - given a broad meaning making it easy to satisfy i.e. if a dog is a large breed, the damage it causes is likely to be severe due to it's size BUT some difficulty in interpreting 'likely'

2(2)b - not worded clearly so courts had difficulty interpreting and applying AND difference in judicial approach as to whether characteristic always has to be abnormal

2(2)c - difficult to satisfy so strikes a balance between C & D, difficult to argue how aware D is of the characteristics, measured objectively

16 of 28

Liability for Animals


Section 5

17 of 28

Liability for Animals

S5(1) - keeper not liable for damage due wholly to the fault of the person suffering it

Sylvester v Chapman

No liability on keeper for injuries to C who entered leopard's pen to recover a cigarette

S5(2) - no liability where a person voluntarily accepted risk of harm

Cummings v Grainger

Woman savaged by an untrained alsation when she entered a scrapyard at night, knowing the dog was there.

18 of 28

Liability for Animals


Section 5

19 of 28

Liability for Animals

s5(3) - keeper not liable to a trespasser if they can prove that the animal was not kept for the purpose of protecting people/property OR it was not unreasonable to do so e.g. Cummings v Grainger (subject to Guard Dogs Act)

s10 - contributory negligence possible as a defence and if accepted will reduce damages

20 of 28

Liability for Animals



21 of 28

Liability for Animals

The owner of livestock that strays onto land of another is liable for any damage done by livestock or for reasonable expenses incurring in keeping the animal until it can be returned

Defined in s11 - cattle, horses, sheep, pigs, goats, donkeys, poultry and deer, pheasants, grouse in captivity

AO2 - very wide definition, very easy to satisfy

22 of 28

Liability for Animals

Dogs and


23 of 28

Liability for Animals

Keeper of dog that causes injury to livestock liable for damage. No requirement to show abnormal characteristics.

AO2 - livestock given greater protection than people as for people there is requirement to show the dog has abnormal characteristics

Under s9(1) - a person who kills or injures a dog is not liable for the damage provided that:

a) that person has acted to protect livestock and is entitled to do so (e.g. farmer)

b) notice is given to the police within 48 hours

24 of 28

Liability for Animals

Dogs and


25 of 28

Liability for Animals

Under s9 - person acting must also believe that

(i) the dog is worrying/about to worry livestock and there is no other reasonable means to end/prevent the worrying

(ii) the dog has been worrying the livestock, is still in the area and not under anyone's control and there is no practical way of finding who it belongs to

Defence under s5(4) - the livestock damaged had strayed onto land of the dog owner so dog therefore allowed to be on the land

26 of 28

Liability for Animals

Trespass to Land,

Trespass to Person

& Negligence

27 of 28

Liability for Animals

Trespass to land - the owner of animals which stray onto another's land may be liable in trespass to land

League Against Cruel Sports v Scott

D liable for allowing fox hounds to run around on land owned by C without consent

Trespass to person - an animal used against another as a weapon may bring about a claim for assault/battery

Negligence - where non-dangerous animal has never shown evidence of potentially dangerous characteristics, C may still be able to claim in negligence

Birch v Mills

C walking dogs along public road and cows in unfenced field chased dogs and injured C - it was reasonably forseeable this might happen

28 of 28


No comments have yet been made

Similar Law resources:

See all Law resources »See all Law of Tort resources »