A more recent version of these Rylands V Fletcher Rule And Application notes – written by Oxford students – is available here.
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Rylands v Fletcher - the rule and its significance Area of Effect
Where But C's land/activities are interfered with o By an "isolated escape" from D's neighbouring land
? Rather than a continuing nuisance
Rylands v Fletcher : A builds reservoir on land to help his mill, builds it so it is near some disused mine tunnels belonging to B which are not blocked up. Water put into reservoir escapes from the reservoir down these tunnels and flood B's mines. o Lord Cairns:
? The person who,
for his own purposes brings on his land and collects and keeps there
anything that is not natural to the land and its enjoyment
and it likely to do mischief if it escapes, o must keep it in at his peril;
? and if he does not do so, is answerable for all the damage which is the natural consequence of its escape o Lord Cransworth:
? The question in general is not whether D has acted with/without due care and caution,
but whether his acts have occasioned the damage Requirements for Liability
D brings onto his land for his own purpose something likely to do mischief if it escapes o Rylands v Fletcher
? Blackburn J: could be beasts, or water, or filth or stenches o Transco Plc v Stockport MBC :
? Lord Bingham:
Test should not be easily satisfied o Must be shown D has done something he has recognised/ought to have recognised
? as giving rise to exceptionally high risk of danger if there should be an escape
No matter how unlikely escape is.
And land was being used in a non-natural way o Lord Cairns in Rylands v Fletcher : introducing something to the land which in the land's natural condition would not have this something upon it o Giliker: Thing must be being put to some special use which brings it with increased danger to others
? Not merely the ordinary use of the land or the use as is proper for the general benefit of the community o Read v Lyons :
? Lord Porter:
In deciding this question, all the circumstances of time and practice of mankind must be taken into consideration o So that what may be regarded as dangerous or nonnatural may vary according to the circumstances
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