Occupier’s liability

Occupier’s Liability

3.1 Liability to Lawful Visitors under the 1957 Act

3.1.1 Introduction

1.  Occupier’s Liability Act 1957 – covers liability to visitors.

2.  1984 Act covers liability to non-visitors (mainly trespassers).

3.  Both Acts only cover damage resulting from state of premises – other damage is covered by negligence (Ogwo v Taylor (1987)).

3.1.2 Definition of Occupier (Potential Defendants)

1.  There is no real statutory definition so common law test applies: who has control of premises? (Wheat v Lacon (1966)).

2.  Dual occupation possible – identity of the defendant depends on the nature of the interest, etc. (Collier v Anglian Water Authority (1983)).

3.  In an action a lawyer’s main concern is who has means to be sued.

4.  There is no need for proprietary interest or possession, only control, so different to trespass (Harris v Birkenhead Corporation (1976)).

3.1.3 Definition of Premises

1.  No complete definition in either Act, so common law applies.

2.  It obviously includes houses, buildings, land, etc. but also:

   ships in dry dock (London Graving Dock v Horton (1951));

   vehicles (Hartwell v Grayson (1947));

   lifts (Haseldine v Daw & Son Ltd (1941));

   aircraft (Fosbroke-Hobbes v Airwork Ltd (1937));

   and even a ladder (Wheeler v Copas (1981)).

3.  The 1957 Act in s1(3)(a) preserves the common law (‘fixed or movable structure, including any vessel, vehicle or aircraft …’).

3.1.4 Potential Claimants

3.1.5 The Scope of the Act (The Common Duty of Care)