This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Learn more

GDL Law Notes GDL Tort Law Notes

Rylands And Fletcher Notes

Updated Rylands And Fletcher 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:

  • Concerned the flooding of the C’s mineshafts by water – D had collected in a reservoir on his property

    • Independent contractors had constructed the reservoir in such a way as to cause the water to flood the C’s underlying mine

    • D was not negligent in allowing the water to escape – but Blackburn J held him to be liable – ‘the person who for his own purpose brings on to his land and collects and keeps there anything likely to do mischief if it escapes, must keep it at his peril’

  • HL upheld decision but introduced the rule that the D’s use should be ‘non natural use’ of his land

‘Brings onto land and accumulates there…’

  • Giles v Walker – no liability for the spread of thistles from the D’s land as they grew there naturals and had not been brought onto the land

For his own purposes anything likely to do mischief

  • Liability for things which are obviously dangerous – also possible to impose liability for relatively safe things if they can escape in a way which would make them dangerous

  • AcidRainham Chemical Works v Belveder Fish Guano

  • Explosives – Read v Lyons

  • Colliery spoilAG v Cory Bros Ltd


  • Substance must escape from land over which the D has control to land where he does not: Read v Lyons – claim failed because C was injured by an explosion on the defendant’s land – there was no escape

Non-Natural User: thing that has been accumulated must have quality of being for non-natural use

  • Richards v Lothian – Lord Moulton – ‘…it must be some special use bringing with it increased danger to others and must not merely be the ordinary use of the land’

    • C suffered damage when the D’s sink overflowed because a trespasser had blocked it

    • D was making ordinary and proper use of his land so no liability: all the circumstances taken into account

  • Just because earlier case found non-natural use will not categorise that item forever– times change!

    • Musgrove v Pandelis (1919): held that storing a car full of petrol in a garage was non-natural use of land – (shows how times change)

    • Mason v Levy Auto Parts (1967) – combustible materials held not to be a non-natural use

  • Chemicals : Cambridge Water Co v Eastern Counties Leather :HL rejected argument that chemicals in a factory are natural in present day storage of chemicals = ‘almost classic case’ of non-natural use

  • Giles v Walker – vegetation is natural

  • Transco plc v Stockport MBC – HL followed Rickards v Lothian – stated that piping of water for domestic use was not non-natural : Lord Bingham – said that would only be non-natural if extraordinary and unusual

  • Non-natural and dangerousness seems to be intertwined concepts


  • Case of Rylands v Fletcher : imposing strict liability where an isolated escape has occurred

  • Cambridge Water Co –(HL) foreseeability of damage is ESSENTIAL for a claim to succeed: suggests backlash vs. strict liability: D must have known or ought reasonably to have foreseen that the something, which escaped, could cause damage were it to do so

  • BUT: Must foresee the DAMAGE – NOT the ESCAPE - so strict liability DOES still apply

Who can Sue?

  • Read v Lyons :necessary for the C to have an interest in land (development of private nuisance)

    • BUT: claimants with no interest had succeeded – Charing Cross Electricity v Hydraulic Power; British Celanese Ltd v A. H. Hunt (Capacitors) Ltd – claimant need not be the occupier

  • HOWEVER: Cambridge Water - Rylands no more than an extension of the private nuisance:

    • Confirmed in Transco that it is a sub-species of private nuisance, so following Canary Warf must have an interest in land

  • Requirement of an interest in land has been challenged by HRA 1998 (see below)


  1. Consent (or Common Benefit)

  • If the C has agreed to the accumulation of the material by the D there will be no liability under the rule – consent can be implied if the substance has been accumulated for the common benefit of the C and the D: Peters v Prince of Wales Theatre

  1. Act or Default of the Claimant

  • If escape is due to the actions of the C then they will be unable to complain – Dunn v Birmingham Canal Co – where the claimant dug under the D’s canal and caused it to flood

  • If the C’s act is merely contributory there may be shared...

Buy the full version of these notes or essay plans and more in our GDL Tort Law Notes.

More GDL Tort Law Samples