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GDL Law Notes GDL Tort Law Notes

Occupiers Liability Notes

Updated Occupiers Liability Notes

GDL Tort Law Notes

GDL Tort Law

Approximately 591 pages

A collection of the best GDL notes the director of Oxbridge Notes (an Oxford law graduate) could find after combing through applications from top students and carefully evaluating each on accuracy, formatting, logical structure, spelling/grammar, conciseness and "wow-factor". In short these are what we believe to be the strongest set of GDL notes available in the UK this year. This collection of GDL notes is fully updated for recent exams, also making them the most up-to-date GDL study materials ...

The following is a more accessible plain text extract of the PDF sample above, taken from our GDL Tort Law Notes. Due to the challenges of extracting text from PDFs, it will have odd formatting:

  • Extension or ordinary rules of negligence – although it is largely governed by statute (doesn’t replace but works alongside common law)

  • Duty to lawful visitors: Occupiers’ Liability Act 1957 (OLA 1957)

  • Duty to non-visitors i.e. trespassers: Occupiers’ Liability Act 1983 (OLA 1984)

    • Basis of the Occupiers’ Liability Act 1984 (OLA 1984 ) derived from HL decision in British Railway Board v Herrington – introduction of the duty of ‘common humanity’ and departure from old position that no duty was owed to trespassers

Liability to Lawful Visitors (OLA 1957)

“Occupier” (s1(2) OLA 1957)

  • Act doesn’t define it but makes reference to the common law: any person who has a sufficient degree of control over the premises

  • Wheat v Lacon & Co

    • Brewery who allowed manager(s) of pub to live there remained in occupation as retained sufficient degree of control - if someone has to live somewhere as a part of their occupation, they will not be an occupier

    • (Denning’s judgement) – 4 categories of ‘occupiers’:

  1. Where the landlord doesn’t live on the property – the tenant is the occupier

  2. Where the landlord retains some part of the premises (e.g. common areas) he will be the occupier of those parts

  3. Where the landlord issues a license, they remain the occupier (as in Whear)

  4. Where the landlord employs an independent contractor, they usually remain the occupier

  • Bailey v Armes (CA): Flat roof was above a supermarket and adjacent to the D’s flat – neither supermarket nor flat owner deemed to have sufficient control over the roof areas – so neither liable

  • Multiple occupiers: no need for exclusive occupation, so can have multiple occupiers

    • Collier v Anglican Water Authority: Both water board and local authority were occupiers – it was the water authority who were liable

    • Different occupiers may be responsible for different parts of the premises; or else for different dangers

  • Independent contractors: can be occupiers - AMF International Ltd v Magnet Bowling Ltd

  • Absent owners: Harris v Birkenhead Corporation occupants even though had never exercised actual control over the property

Premises” (s.1(3)(a) OLA 1957)

  • Widely defined: s1(3)(a) OLA 1957 and s1(2) OLA 1984 – includes ‘any fixed or moveable structure, including any vessel, vehicle or aircraft’

  • Wheeler v Copas: premises included a ladder


  • No definition of ‘lawful visitors’ in the act – so look to the common law:

  • Classification of visitor:

  1. Express permission / licence: but this can be limited in a number of ways –

  1. By area: permission may be limited to certain areas – e.g. invitation to enter cinema to watch a film, but no permission to enter other areas

    • The Calgarth – an invitation to enter a house to use the staircase does not equate to an invitation to slide down the bannister!

    • Pearson v Coleman Bros: Girl was permitted to be on the premises to attend a circus, but had no permission to enter the area where she was mauled by a lion

  2. By time

    • Stone v Taffe: punters permitted to be in pub for a lock-in – pub was liable despite the lock-in being illegal – an occupier must make time limit clear to the visitor

  3. By purpose:

    • Visitor may become a trespasser if they go beyond the purpose for which they were invited – R v Smith and Jones

  1. Implied permission

    • Permission may be implied as a result of the occupier’s behaviour

    • This may be limited by notice

    • Lowery v Walker: Where the public had been using a short cut over the D’s land for 35 years, there was an implied licence and thus he was liable when someone was attacked by a wild horse

  2. Lawful authority (s2(6))

    • Higgs v Foster: police can enter property

  3. Contractual permission

    • S5(1) OLA 1957: where someone enters under terms of a contract with the occupier – a term will be implied into the contract that a duty of care is owed to the entrant

  4. Public and private right of way

    • Users of public rights of way (i.e. footbath) not covered by the Acts so must rely on the common law

The Common Duty of Care

  • The Common Duty of Care is defined in s.2 (2)

  • S.2 (1) defines who this duty is owed to

Breach and Standard of Care

  • S2(2) OLA 1957: occupier should take ‘such care as is reasonable in all the circumstances’

    • Only expected to take reasonable care - not an absolute standard

  • Duty relates to the state of the premises itself (if damage is caused by an activity on the premises then the claim will be brought in general negligence

  • Consideration will be paid to any personal characteristics of the visitor

    • Haley v London Electricity Board: blind people should be considered as potential users of the highway

  • Special factors/qualifications

    • Children: s2(3)(a)

      • Occupier should be prepared that children will be less careful than adults

      • Doctrine of Allurement

        • Children are attracted to certain dangerous premises – and occupiers should be aware of this

        • Glasgow Corp v Taylor: child attracted to poisonous red berries on a tree

      • However: Doctrine of Implied Permission tempers the allurement concept:

        • Phipps v Rochester Corporation: occupier entitled to assume a child will be supervised (parent or a person in loco parentis)

        • Although – if children are known to be present and it can be anticipated that the level of supervision is low – greater care may be appropriate

          • Perry v Butlins Holiday World: CA found D liable due to the regularity of the presence of children in the area, and the design of the brick wall which caused the injury

    • Experts/Specialists: s2(3)(b)

      • Act preserves the common law – occupiers should not have to take care to protect someone against risks which are incidental to their job and which they could reasonably be expected to have guarded against themselves

      • ...

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