Liability for injury to persons on premises that are under the
control of another.
Who’s an occupier?
What are premises?
Visitors v Trespassers
Wheat v Lacon (1966)
Exercises a sufficient degree of control over the premises
Lord Denning identified 4 categories of Occupiers:
1. If the landlord rents the premises to a tenant, then the
tenant is the occupier.
2. If the landlord rents the premises, he remains liable for
common areas such as stairs, gardens etc.
3. If the landlord grants a licence, then both are
4. If the landlord engages an independent contractor,
then the landlord remains the occupier BUT the
independent contractor may be the occupier if he has a
high level of control.
“… any fixed or moveable structure, including any vessel,
vehicle or aircraft.”
Obviously land, buildings and houses, but what about…
Ladders? – Wheeler v Copas [1981]
Ships in dry dock? - London Graving Dock v Horton (1951)
Vehicles? - Hartwell v Grayson (1947)
Lifts? - Haseldine v Daw & Son Ltd (1941)
Occupiers must keep premises in a reasonably safe
condition. There must be “negligence”, “defect” or
“danger” with the premises for claim to succeed.
If someone tries to run up the sides of the Hall of Justice
and falls, will their claim be successful?
Maloney v Torfean CBC (2005, CA)
Anyone with expressed or implied permission to be on the property.
Includes permission granted by law:
Police Officers. Health Inspectors?
Witnesses? Political Canvassers?
Robson v. Hallet (1967)
“...when a householder lives in a dwelling house to which there is a
garden in front and does not lock the gate of the garden it gives an
implied licence to any member of the public who has lawful reason
for doing so to proceed from the gate to the front door or the back
taking a short-cut?
Lowery v Walker [1911]
Warning – Sufficient to enable the visitor to be reasonably safe
Lewis v Ronald (1909)
Lewis was delivering fish at an apartment-house, when he fell
down an unlighted stairway. Ronald entered into an agreement
with the tenants that he would light the staircases on the premises
"when necessary."
Deliberate – Goes into area known to be “out of bounds”
Anderson v Coutts (1894)
Anderson fell over a cliff after he ignored a warning notice and
climbed over railings.
Stone v Taffe (1974)
Drinking after 10:30pm was not allowed, but this was never
communicated to the patron, so bar owner was still liable. Had the
patron been notified, he would have lost his visitor status.
The Calgarth 1927
Scrutton LJ: “When you invite a person into your house to use the
staircase, you do not invite him to slide down the banisters.
Addie v Dumbreck [1929]
The defendant owned a coal mine, which had a fence around the
perimeter of the field although there were large gaps in it. The
field was frequently used as a short cut to a railway station and
children would use it as a playground. The defendant would often
warn people off the land but the attempts were not effective and
no real attempt was made to ensure that people did not come
onto the land. A child came on to the land and was killed when he
climbed onto a piece of haulage apparatus.
No duty of care was owed to trespassers to ensure that they were
safe when coming onto the land. The only duty was not to inflict
harm wilfully.
British Railways Board v. Herrington (1972)
Herrington, a child, had gone through a fence onto the
railway line, and been badly injured. The Board knew of the
broken fence, but argued that they owed no duty to a
The defendants burgled the home of one of the defendants,
where he lived with his parents and stole two television sets
Burglary involves entry onto property as a trespasser, so
they tried to argue that they were visitors.
The appellants had exceeded their permission by stealing
and were thus trespassers.
Must be prepared for children to be less careful than adults
Pearson v Coleman Bros [1948]
7 year old girl went to the circus with her family. She wandered
off to go to the toilets instead she ended up in the animal
enclosure and was attacked by a lion.
Parental Responsibility for young children
Phipps v Rochester Corporation [1955]
 5 year old boy supervised by his sister aged 7 fell into a trench
dug by Rochester Corp for the purpose of laying down sewers
Anything that entices a child
Glasglow Corporation v Taylor (1922)
Eight year old boy ate poisonous berries in park and died.
There was no fence or warning signs.
Occupier is not liable for hazards arising from the work. (e.g. The occupier
is not liable if an electrician electrocutes himself)
Roles v Nathan [1963]
Two chimney sweeps were sealing up a sweep hole in a flue (chimney
opening). Carbon monoxide came through. They had been warned
repeatedly, and told not to stay in too long, and not to work while a fire
was alight. Once already, they had been dragged out for not doing as they
were told. They died while working when the fire was burning. The widows
sued the occupier.
The defendant was not liable. The dangers were special risks ordinarily
incident to their calling. The warnings issued were clear and the brothers
would have been safe had they heeded the warnings.

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