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Law of Torts

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Introduction

Law Unit 5 - Law of Torts If a person has done something wrong in civil law, for example like breaking an agreement or being careless and causing injury to another person or his property, then these wrongs are not punishable by prison sentence, rather they are 'civil' wrongs, and aim of civil law is to compensate the victim or to put right the wrong in some other way, this called Law of Torts. Now I am going to look at Occupiers Liability Act 1957 because the injuries to Nasma and Peter arisen from the state of the premises. Occupiers liability concerns the liability of an 'occupier of land' for the claimant's injury or loss or damage to the property suffered whilst on the occupier's premises. Therefore occupiers liability must be distinguish from damage caused by the defendant's use of his or her land, which the claimant suffers on his or her land. Occupiers liability is not given a definition under the 1957 act, section 1(1) merely states; 'in consequence of a person's occupation or control of premises'. The test for deciding whether a defendant in fact an 'occupiers' is determined by the degree of control arising from their presence or activity on the premises. Wheat v. Lacon (1966) in this case a manager of a pub was given the right to rent out rooms in his private quarters, by the owner. When paying guest fell on the unlit staircase, the HL held that both the manager and his employers could be occupiers under the act. I the event neither had breached their duty, since it was a stranger that had removed the light bulb. The occupation can be multiple occupations this can be seen in Collier v. Anglian Water Authority (1983) where a promenade formed part of the sea defences for which the water authority was responsible. The LA owned the land and was responsible for cleaning the promenade. ...read more.

Middle

It was held that the micro-cracks were not foreseeable given the prevailing scientific knowledge of the time. Thus, since no reasonable anaesthetist would have stored the anaesthetic differently, it was inappropriate to hold the hospital management liable for failing to take precautions. Finally we must identify whether Mary can avoid her duty of care. This could be achieved in 3 ways, firstly warnings. This is any kind of notice given by the occupier to inform the visitor of the danger, enabling them to take reasonable care for their own safety, this coming from section 2(4) (a) OLA 1957. However John told his children not to play in it but Nasma is a child so this is not sufficient so john could not use this defence. Secondly, section 2(1) OLA 1957 states 'an occupier can extend, restrict, modify or exclude his duty of care to any visitor by agreement or otherwise'. This means a duty of care can be excluded by means of a contract term or by a notice communicated to the visitor. John has not 'by agreement or otherwise' excluded her liability for injuries or damage and so could not use this defence. Finally consent which is also known as Volenti non fit injuria. This can be found in section 2(5) OLA 1957 and means that where the claimant knew of the risk but took it anyway; there can be no liability on the occupiers' behalf. This will only apply if the risk is fully understood and accepted by the visitor. This comes from White v Blackmore and Simms v Leigh RFC Ltd. Nasma, who is a child, was not aware of the risk and cannot willingly accept it. John therefore cannot avoid her duty of care by using this defence. Thus Nasma would be able to commence legal proceedings against John under the tort of occupier's liability for the injuries he has sustained. ...read more.

Conclusion

These authorities however did not appear to go as far as the decision in Rylands and "as developed by the courts in subsequent decisions, was wider and quite different in kind to any that preceded it." In delivering the judgement of the Court of Exchequer Chamber, Blackburn J said that the "rule applied only to a thing which was not naturally there." Lord Cairns in the House of Lords added the condition that the defendant must have put his land to "a non-natural use" It is this concept of non-natural use that has created much confusion, and the courts have over the years redefined this concept on a number of occasions, adding conditions and restrictions to its application. The rule does not apply to things that occur naturally on the land, the thing must have been brought on to, or accumulated on the land. In the event of the escape of water that is naturally upon the land D will not be liable if there is an escape that causes damage because D is not responsible for the accumulation or its creation, there must exist the fact that it has been "artificially accumulated" by D. Similarly, the escape of rocks that are naturally on the land would not amount to an accumulation, however if the escape of the rocks is the result of blasting in a quarry, as was the facts in Miles v Forest Rock Granite Co. (Leicestershire) Ltd, liability may be imposed for the accumulation of the explosives. Therefore, even if the thing that escapes is not the thing that has been accumulated, liability can still be imposed. Although, this rule in Rylands is said to be a principle of strict liability the common law has developed a number of defences that have moved towards introducing the elements of fault. The occupier of the land is liable for damage caused by an escape subject to the defences of common benefit,[10] act of a stranger, statutory authority, consent of the claimant, default of the claimant or an act of God. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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