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GDL Law Notes GDL Tort Law Notes

Tort Of Rylands V Fletcher Notes

Updated Tort Of Rylands V 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:

Tort of Rylands v Fletcher (1866)

  • Rule per Blackburn J (Lord Cairns added the term ‘non-natural user’ in the HL):

    • “Where the defendant brings onto his land anything likely to do mischief if it escapes, he is liable for any foreseeable damage caused by the escape of that non-natural use onto the Claimants land”

      • 1) That the defendant brought something onto his land;

      • 2) That the defendant made a “non-natural use” of his land (per Lord Cairns, LC);

      • 3) The thing was something likely to do mischief if it escaped;

      • 4) The thing did escape and cause damage.

    • This is a strict liability rule

  • Rylands v Fletcher (1866) – Ds employed independent contractors to construct a reservoir on their land. Contractors discovered disused miens but failed to fill them properly. When they flooded the reservoir the water flooded through the mines onto the adjoining property of the plaintiffs land.

    • Held liable in CA and HoL

  • A great deal of academic debate about the relationship:

    • Some think RvF is a new type of tort, others argue it is merely a sort of nuisance.


  • Examples:

    • Cambridge Water v Eastern Counties Leather [1994] – spillages of solvent from D’s leather tanning business accumulated over years in the soil, eventually reaching a borehole owned by the Claimant water company, contaminating it and rendering it unusable.

      • Held that D was not liable as the damage was too remote.

      • Lord Goff said that the genesis of RvF is a particular application of the tort of nuisance to isolated escapes. This is unconvincing, as the definition is very different.

    • If they are the same then for RvF you must have an interest in lands being affected and it should not cover personal liability

      • Has been been interepreted as a subspecies of private nuisance sicne. .

    • Transco Plc v Stockport MBC [2003] – D council were responsible for the maintenance of the pipe work supplying water to a block of flats. An undetected leak caused pressure to build around C’s gas main. Embankment around this main collapsed causing risk of danger. Claimant took action to avoid this danger then sought to recover costs of remedial work.

      • Held that the defendant was not liable. The council’s use of land was not a non-natural use.

  • 1) That the defendant brought something onto his land (accumulated it)

    • LMS International v Styrene Packaging [2005] – D’s factory contained a large quantity of flammable material. A fire started and spread to claimants land. The defendant was liable as it had accumulated things which were a known fire risk.

      • NB following Gore (below) this is only useful in understanding storage. Would now be decided differently as it must be the dangerous thing that escapes not he fire.

    • Ellison v Ministry of Defence (1997) – D constructed bulk fuel installations at an airfield that caused rainwater to build up and run off, flooding neighbours land.

      • Held that the rain water accumulated naturally and was not artificially kept there. Consequently the defendant was not liable

  • 2) …for a non-natural use…

    • Rickards v Lothian [1913] – C ran a business on second floor of building. Tenant on third floor blocked sinks and lavatory, turned on all of the taps and...

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