Law of Torts - Strict Liability - Part II

The Rule In Reylands v Fletcher (1866)

The D constructed a reservoir upon his land in order to supply water to his mill. There was a disused and filled-up shaft of an old coal mine the passages of which communicated with the adjoining mine of P. Due to the negligence of the contractor appointed by D. This fact was not discovered and the danger caused by it was not guarded. When the reservoir was filled up by the water, the water escape to P’s land through the shaft. House of Lord held that D was liable.

Blackburn J :

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

This case has develop the principle of strict liability as one of tort action.

Elements To Prove Strict Liability

Non Natural Use Of Land

1. Water

Liability in respect of water depends on whether the water is naturally on the land or it is artificially accumulated or interfered with in some way - - Seong Fatt Sawmill Sdn Bhd v Dunlop Malaysia Industries Sdn Bhd

D had artificially accumulated the rainwater with the excavation which was an alteration to the nature of the land. D was held liable. - - Abd Hamid Abd Rashid Dr & Anor v Jurusan Malaysia Consultants (sued as a firm) & 4 Ors.

2. Fire

If for purpose of cooking or domestic use is natural but if used in industrial process, unlicensed locomotive steam engine shoot out spark at highway it is non natural cause.

3. Electricity, Explosive/Chemical

Electricity/gas for domestic use is ok but inflammable kept indoor if escape and cause fire/explode not natural.

Ang Hock Hai v Tan Sum Lee - - petrol for tyre business is liable

Reid v Lyon - - manufacture ammunition during war to defeat enemy and exploded – ok

British Celanese Ltd v A Hunt - - manufacture electrical is for community if escape - ok

4. Other activities

Planting poisonous in the land is non natural - - Crownhurst v Amersham Burial Board

Let properties to undesirable tenant for own benefit if they defecated the neighbor. - - AG v Corke


Escape from the place where the D has occupation or control over land to a place which is outside his occupation or control.

Note: the victim must be outside the land of D - - Read v Lyons

Occupant or Control

1. D must occupy or has control over the land from which the thing escape

2. Damage to car parked at Public Street by acid emitted by D’s boiler – liable - - Halsey v Esso Petroleum

3. Gas escaped from leaking pipe under Public St. D who maintain the pipe held liable - - Benning v Wong

4. An owner who is not in occupation of the land at the time of the escape may be liable if he authorize the accumulation which escape - - Rainham Chemical Works v Belvedere Fish Guano

Personal Injury

1. The rule in Reylands only covers property damage only - - obiter in Read v Lyons

2. In some cases the rule extended to personal injury.

3. A chair of plane which cause personal injury to P due to D negligence – liable - - Hale v Jennings Bros

4. Personal injury claimable - - Yat Yuen Hong Co. Ltd v Sheridan

5. But it is not settled yet - - Dunne v North Western Gas Board

Foreseeability Of Damage

The Defendant must reasonable foresee that plaintiff will suffer the damage

The rule had extended in Cambridge Water Co v Eastern Countries Leather
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Need Law Introduction ... click HERE
Private Policy About Us Contact Us Content References

LAW (LLB) NOTES is intended merely as an informational and educational resource and is not intended to offer legal advice, nor does it offer legal advice. The exchange of information, by electronic mail or otherwise, relating in any way to LAW (LLB) NOTES is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship, nor does it create an attorney-client relationship.