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Flashcards in Rylands v Fletcher Deck (18)
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1

What is Blackburn J's classic statement of the Rylands v Fletcher rule?

The person who for his own purposes brings on his lands and collects and keeps anything likely to do mischief if it escapes, must keep it at his peril and if he does not do so is prima facie answerable for all the damage which is the natural consequence of its escape.

2

How was the rule developed in Cambridge Water? (3 ways)

The rule remained restricted in its ambit
a. Applying only to adjoining landowners
b. Confined to cases of escape from one property to another
c. Inapplicable to personal injury (since offshoot of private nuisance)

3

Smeaton v Ilford Corp

"for his own purposes" does not mean D must seek to profit from the activity

4

Cambridge Water

The risk of escape must itself be foreseeable and damage of the relevant type must have been foreseen as a possible result of the escape

5

Rickards v Lothian

"Non natural use" = “special use bringing with it increased danger to others and must not merely be the ordinary use of the land or a use…for the general benefit of the community”

6

Read v Lyons

The tendency is to say a use is natural when it leads to a public benefit (munitions in war)

7

Cambridge Water (non-natural use)

i. The storage of substantial quantities of chemicals on industrial premises is “an almost classic case of non-natural use” EVEN IF the use was common or ordinary in that industry and usually poses an exceptional risk.
ii. The rule has developed to exclude deliberate accumulations caused by ordinary uses of land.

8

Read v J. Lyons (escape)

There must be an escape of the dangerous thing from a place where D has occupation or control over land to a place outside D’s occupation or control

9

Stannard v Gore (escape)

It is the dangerous thing itself that must escape and NOT its consequences; thus if the dangerous thing is fire, fire must have been brought onto the land rather than merely a dangerous thing

10

Stannard v Gore (defence)

Reasonable care is NOT a defence because the tort is not based on negligence

11

What if C has consented to the presence of the dangerous thing?

If D was not negligent he is not liable (Kiddle) but if he was, he is still liable (Color Quest)

12

Carstairs v Taylor

If the source of the danger is maintained for the common benefit of C and D this provides a defence of consent

13

Box v Jubb

If the escape is caused by the unforeseeable act of a stranger D will not be liable

14

Northwestern Utilities

Essentially if D proves the act of a stranger the claim merges into negligence and C must prove D’s culpable failure to control the risk (that D ought to have anticipated the stranger's act or prevented its consequences)

15

NW Water Authority

If a statutory authority is under a mandatory obligation to supply a service, the authority is never liable for anything expressly required by statute to be done or reasonably incidental to that requirement provided it was done without negligence

16

Northwestern Gas Board

If the statutory authority is merely permissive, the authority is not liable for doing what the statute authorises without negligence UNLESS there is a nuisance clause

17

Greenock Corp v Caledonian Ry

– If the escape is caused directly by natural causes without human intervention in “circumstances which no human foresight can provide against and of which human prudence is not bound to recognise the possibility” the defence of Act of God applies

18

Ponting v Noakes

If the damage is caused solely by the act or default of C he has no remedy