LAWS101 - Rylands v Fletcher

The cases in the line of Rylands and Fletcher - LAWS 101, Otago University
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Rylands v Fletcher
Reservoir leaked - sued. Established 4 main criteria:
- likely to do mischief
- escape
- brought onto land
- for own purposes
Read v Lyons
Bomb factory - inspector hurt when inspecting during WW2.
- Defined escape as 'moving from an area of the defendant's control to an area outside of the defendant's control"
- Said DID constitute natural use, given it was wartime, and benefited the nation.
Hoare v McAlpine
Vibrations from pylons - caused damage to old house.
- Held NON TANGIBLE things (e.g vibrations) still likely to do mischief. However defined the category so widely, effectively made element useless.
- Held that secondary cause brought onto land still counts - i.e. bring a match to start a fire, you technically brought the fire.
Rickards v Lothian
Rogue 3rd party entered building, clogged up sink, flooded.
- Defines natural use as "ordinary and usual use which is of benefit to the community"
- Defines non natural use as "special use that increases danger to others"
Defence - Act of a Stranger/ 3rd party - had no control over = successful defence.
Forest Products v O'Sullivan
Burning off spread to neighbours land - had to get his own fire crew to put out fire in order to PREVENT damage.
- Held natural use - have to analyse conditions (wind, heat etc.)
Cambridge Water Co. v East Counties Leather
ECL had chemical which spilled over - seeped through ground, into CWC's land.
- Held that creation of employment is NOT enough to make something a natural use. Storage of chemicals is a 'classic case of non-natural use'
- Holds that classification of things as natural has been taken too far - needs to be narrowed again
- Introduces element of foreseeability of damage (NOT escape)
Hamilton v Papakura District Council
Low levels of herbicide in water supply - damaged hydroponic tomatoes.
-Held not foreseeable, as level was considered acceptable for drinking water.
Irvine v DCC
Burst water main caused damage.
- Held although providing community service, STILL for own purposes, as making profit.
- Held non natural, as danger was inherent in moving large amounts of water.
Owen's Transport
Water mains burst, caused damage to trucks.
- Changed focus of natural use to danger - rather than community benefit.
British Celanese v A.H Hunt
Factory producing foil - wind blows to electricity station, causes it to shut down which resulted in damage to factory.
- Clearly escape, as left area of defendant's control
- Held WAS natural use - as providing jobs and benefit to community *HOWEVER this isn't rule any more - more focus on danger*
Mason v Auto Levy Parts
Auto Shop in backyard - parts stacked haphazardly. Fire starts, causes damage to neighbours.
- Held as it was in a residential area, and stacked dangerously, it was non natural use.
Nolan v Miller
Burning off - small twister carried fire to neighbours, causes damage.
- Attempted Act of God, however twisters were common, so clearly sudden, but not unprecedented
Holderness v Goslin
Farm owner away - left manager in charge. Manager in turn, left son in charge. Son burnt off - caused damage.
- Tried to argue act of 3rd party - however owner had allowed manager to delegate tasks = still liable
Nichols v Marshland
Act of God has to be SUDDEN and UNPRECEDENTED.
Giles v Walker
Thistles blew over to neighbour - caused damage.
- Held they were clearly not brought onto land, as grew there naturally.
6 elements of Rylands:
1. Likely to do mischief
2. Escape
3. Brought onto land
4. For own purposes
5. Non-natural use
6. Foreseeability of damage