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

Law Notes Tort Law Notes

Occupiers Liability Notes

Updated Occupiers Liability Notes

Tort Law Notes

Tort Law

Approximately 1070 pages

Tort Law notes fully updated for recent exams at Oxford and Cambridge. These notes cover all the LLB tort law cases and so are perfect for anyone doing an LLB in the UK or a great supplement for those doing LLBs abroad, whether that be in Ireland, Hong Kong or Malaysia (University of London).

These were the best Tort Law notes the director of Oxbridge Notes (an Oxford law graduate) could find after combing through dozens of LLB samples from outstanding law students with the highest results in ...

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

Occupiers’ Liability and Defences

Occupiers’ Liability

Main source of law = Occupiers’ Liability Act 1957

Before the OLA, the duties of an occupier at CL were cast to 4 kinds of person. Going highest to lowest degree of care, an occupier owed a duty to:

  • a person who entered in pursuance of a contract with him (e.g. hotel guest).

  • the “invitee” (a person who, without contract, entered on business of interest both to himself and the occupier).

  • the “licensee” (a person who entered without the occupier’s express or implied permission but without any community of interest with the occupier).

  • the trespasser (rules governed by the OLA 1984).

Occupiers’ Liability: Non-Trespassers

A. Scope of the OLA 1957

Act abolished invitee-licensee distinction just “visitors” now.

Act only applies to contractual entrants if contract is silent about safety of the premises.

Rights of the trespasser are governed by the OLA 1984, not the OLA 1957.

s1(1) provides that the Act replaces the CL rules and regulates the duty owed to visitors “in respect of dangers due to the state of the premises or to things done or omitted to be done on them. However, s1(2) does not describe the ‘activity duty’ in the same way activity duties should be imposed by ordinary principles of negligence.

s1(2) also states that ‘occupier’ and ‘visitor’ under the act mean the same as they did under the CL as ‘occupier’ and ‘invitee/licensee’ Wheat v Lacon – ‘occupier’ = a person who has a sufficient degree of control over premises that lack of care may result in injury to a visitor

Act applies not only to land and buildings but also to fixed and movable structures, including vessels, vehicles and aircraft (s1(3)(a)).

Act covers both personal injury and property damage (s1(3)(b)) silent on whether if follows psychiatric injury, but s1(9) 1984 Act explicitly provides for psychological harm would be bizarre if 1957 Act did not have the same scope of protection, absent any contrary intention in the 1957 Act (which there is not).

Act does not affect the relationship of bailor and bailee.

B. Occupier

Wheat v Lacon – ‘occupier’ – test of occupational control

  • Lord Denning: “Wherever a person has a sufficient degree of control over premises that he ought to realise that any failure on his part to use care may result in injury to a person coming lawfully there, then he is an ‘occupier’ and the person coming lawfully there is his ‘visitor’: and the ‘occupier’ is under a duty to his ‘visitor’ to use reasonable care.”

    • Entire control not necessary

    • May be shared control – there may be 2+ ‘occupiers’ each is under a duty to use care dependent on his degree of control each is liable for breaches of duty causing injury, but each may have a claim to contribution from the other

C. Visitors

Visitor = a person to whom the occupier has given express or implied permission to enter (incl. anyone with a right conferred by law (s(2(6)), e.g. firefighters attending a fire, but excl. a person using a public or private right of way (s1(4)) here the occupier is merely under a duty to not create dangers on the premises).

The onus of proving implied permission rests upon the person who claims it exists.

  • Most commonly = a person enters the premises to communicate with the occupier.

  • Occupier’s conduct must imply that he has permitted entry (not merely tolerated it – knowledge consent).

A person may exceed their permission. The duty owed to a visitor does not extend to:

  • anyone who is injured by going where he is expressly or impliedly warned by the occupier not to go

  • anyone who goes to a part of the premises where no one would reasonably expect him to go

  • anyone who uses the premises for purposes not permitted by the invitation

  • anyone who stays on the premises after the occupier’s permission has expired (the limitation of time must be clearly brought home to him)

… and in these cases the visitor becomes a trespasser. Where the occupier’s negligence causes the visitor to take an involuntary step outside the permitted area, he remains a visitor (perhaps negligence is not even needed).

D. The Common Duty of Care (s2)

s2(1): “An occupier of premises owes the same duty, the ‘common duty of care’, to all his visitors”… except insofar as he is free to and does limit that duty by agreement or otherwise.

  • No contract necessary, but if one exists it must be validly incorporated, subject to s2 Unfair Contract Terms Act 1977 (which applies to things done in the course of business or from the occupation of premises used for the business purpose of the occupier).

  • Where no contract is made, reasonable steps must have been taken to bring the exclusion of liability to the attention of the visitor (though he need not actually be aware of it).

s2(2): “The common duty of care is a duty to take such care as in all the circumstances of the case is reasonable to see that the visitor will be reasonably safe in using the premises for the purposes for which he is invited or permitted by the occupier to be there.”

  • Tomlinson v Congleton BC (2003) – C was injured when he dived into the shallow water of a lake in D’s country park. Notices forbade swimming (but same rules applied despite being a trespasser), and D was not held liable because the risk was obvious to any sensible person injury could not fairly be said to have been due to the state of the premises.

  • Hence, obvious natural features should not be taken as “the state of the premises”, nor should D be liable if C chooses to use the premises (in good repair) to carry out some hazardous activity. Underlying question = was there something wrong with the premises, given the purposes for which the visitor was invited?

  • What is reasonable involves balancing benefits with risks and burdens (incl. both the restrictions directly imposed on the occupier and the restrictions that would be imposed on the majority of people in order to prevent the foolhardy encountering risks.

s2(3) points out two specific circumstances to...

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

More Tort Law Samples