Tort Law – occupier’s liability

Subject: Law
Pages: 6
Word count: 1719
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Introduction

Occupier’s Liability Act of 1957 and 1984 under Tort Law obliges the occupier instead of the landowners to impose ‘duty of care’ to other people, who come to the land. The Occupier’s Liability of 1957 elaborated the various classes of visitors in a property are owed to have different elements of duty of care by the occupier. On the other hand, Occupier’s Liability of 1984 primarily highlights the duty of care to the trespassers. Contextually, the essay analyses about the case of Fred v Monuments Plc and Perry v Monuments Plc. In this regard, the case relates to Fred and his son Perry, who is of 10 years old. They once visited an ancient ruin site, which was owned by Lady Barnes. However, it is fully managed and controlled by the site managers of Monuments Plc. From the given case, it is also notable that the site managers have positioned a little but clearly an observable sign that suggests, “Danger! Do not lean on the walls. Visitors enter at their own risk”. Correspondingly, Perry enters with his father on the site, who need not have to pay any charge for his small age, but Fred was required to pay a £2 entrance fee. After a few moments, Fred was walking around the site and then lighted a cigarette. He then leaned on a wall in the site that looked considerably strong. Unfortunately, the wall unexpectedly collapsed and fell upon him, which in turn has caused crushing of his leg and his expensive gold watch.

In the meantime, Perry was at another part of the site. He identified a water-well, which was enclosed by pointed wire. Moreover, a square board of around two meters was placed above the well, which said, “Keep Out! Dilapidated condition”. In addition, the board also depicted the image of danger, i.e. a red skull with crossbones. However, ignoring the warning, Perry crawled under the pointed wire and climbed the well. Unfortunately, the wall of the well collapsed and he fell into it. He broke his arm and damaged his mobile phone, which was considerably expensive. Thus, the objective of this essay is to advise Perry and Fred about their legal rights and remedies that need to be attained based on the Tort law.

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Fred v Monuments Plc

Considering the above-identified issue in the case, it is notable that it is the occupier’s, i.e. the site managers’ liability to ensure the safety to all the visitors. Therefore, it is crucial to discuss about Occupier’s Liability as mentioned in English Tort law. In this context, the landowner is the Monuments Plc, while the site mangers are the occupier. There has been negligence by the site managers relating to Fred, who have faced the accident. The tort theory also supports in understanding the remedies that the victim of the accident is entitled. However, ‘Negligence’ is a part of Occupier’s Liability, which is regarded as the most common form of Tort. Tort law suggests that negligence is the infringement associated with the duty of care, which was owed to another person or individual. Considering the Tort law, the primary element of ‘occupier’s liability’ is the ‘duty of care’, which indicates an organization or establishment is liable to provide care and safety to the people within its premise. The accident or injury caused to any individual within the premise is the liability of the organization. The entity is liable to provide all possible safety measures to the people within the premise so that the chances of accident reduce. Another element of ‘occupier’s liability’ under Tort law is the ‘breach of duty’. In this regard, if the parameters of care and safety to the people are established, it cannot be infringed. The inexperience, lack of resources and other excuses relating to the breach of duty is not legally acceptable.

Based on the rules of tort law, the case issue relating to Fred can be evaluated. In this regard, it is notable from the case scenario of Fred v Monuments Plc that a wall suddenly fell on Fred when he leaned on it. Considering the Consumer Rights Act of 2015, it is the occupier’s liability for anything that might happen to Fred, as he had purchased the ticket. The Act also suggests that it is the occupier’s liability to provide reasonable care to Fred and Perry. However, considering the tort law, the issue cannot be regarded as an act of negligence in occupier’s liability by the site managers. The reason behind this is that the site managers have clearly mentioned through a signboard in the entrance gate stating not to lean on the walls, as it might cause danger. It also mentioned that the visitors should travel to the site at their own risk. Thus, it was a notice to all the visiting members so that they do not engage with any accident or injury.

Considering the Tort law, it is also analysed that there was no breach of duty that opposes occupier’s liability by the site managers, as the accident has not occurred in other ways that was not mentioned by those employees. It can be critically evaluated that if the accident has occurred by collapsing of the wall without leaning on it, then it could have been regarded as a breach of duty. To support the defence of the site managers, some relevant cases related to occupier’s liability can be highlighted, wherein the claimant has complete knowledge about the possible risk. These cases include Wooldridge v Sumner & Anor and Morris v Murray, wherein the Court gave its verdict in favour of the defendants, as the claimant had complete knowledge about the possible risks and was not deceived or misguided. Thus, Fred is not liable to receive any remedy.

Perry v Monuments Plc

Moreover, the ‘occupier’s liability’ of Tort law also mentions about ‘causation’, which suggests that breach of care, is responsible for any personal injury, loss, or damage. It also enquires on whether the act of the defendant is also responsible for the harm caused. Tort law also determines that whether actual harm has taken place as a result of the incidence. The occurrence of actual harm to the defendants only entitles him/her to obtain the remedies. The harm may be mental, physical injury, or damage to property. In addition, it also involves financial loss along with the cause of embarrassment or emotional distress. Tort law elaborates about the remedies that the victim receives as a result of the issue. In this regard, remedies as per tort law remedies are of two types, which includes damages and injunction. Damages involve giving financial assistance or compensation to the victim for the loss incurred due to the issue, while injunction does not relate with monetary benefit, however, it focuses on performing certain course of action, which gives proper justice to the claimant.

Considering the case of Perry v Monuments Plc, where Perry had also fallen into the well cannot be regarded as negligence of occupier’s liability by the site managers. This is mostly due to the fact that in addition to informing in the entrance gate, the well was also marked with a danger sign for making the visitors aware of the risks. Besides, the small board above the well also mentioned about its dilapidated condition. The site managers have also ensured occupier’s liability by providing necessary protection to the well with barbed wire surrounded so that none of the individuals can reach the well. Thus, based on occupier’s liability of tort law, it can be evaluated that there was no negligence in the duty of care among the site managers, as they have taken all the preventive measures along with making people aware regarding the site. It can be further analysed based on the occupier’s liability of the tort law that the defendant, i.e. the site managers have made necessary consent to them regarding the possible risks, thus they cannot be held guilty.

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From the case of Perry v Monuments Plc, it can also be criticised that the site managers have only informed through the written signboards, while Perry was only of 10 years age. Hence, it is not likely that he would have understood the warnings. In addition, it was also not obvious for Perry to understand the danger sign, which implies to inappropriate duty of care among the site managers. Thus, it can be evaluated that the site managers were not effective in ensuring the occupier’s liability. However, it can be counter-argued by the fact that it was the responsibility of the father, i.e. Fred to take care of his son and should not have left Perry alone. Moreover, the site managers would not have allowed such as small boy alone to enter into the site. Thus, there has been no negligence in the duty of care and corresponding violation of duty. Therefore, based on the occupier’s liability of tort law, it can be inferred that the causation of the issue was not due to the negligence by the site managers, indeed by Fred and Perry. It can also be evaluated that Perry is not entitled to any remedy, as injury caused along with damage products such as watch and mobile phone was not due to the negligence in occupier’s liability of the site managers. This is also apparent from the other cases such as Baker v TE Hopkins & Son Ltd; Haynes v Harwood; and Ogwo v Taylor, wherein the rescuers had comprehensive knowledge about the risks involved with respect to his/her life. Thus, the court made its decisions against the claimants. Moreover, the cases such as Condon v Basi; and Blake v Galloway also indicates of the similar decision, wherein the sports person had participated in the event after knowing the possibility of injuries and death. Thus, it is analysed that Fred and Perry would not get any remedy.

Conclusion

Based on the overall analysis of the case scenario using the rules of tort law and some other cases, it can be advised to Fred and Perry that they should not appeal to any right and remedy. This is because of the occupier’s liabilty of Tort law, which suggests that, as Fred and Perry was rightly informed by the site managers regarding the possible risks, they cannot be held guilty for the accidents that have happened.

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Books

  1. Jane Wright, Tort Law and Human Rights (Bloomsbury Publishing, 2017) 1-352
  2. Jenny Steele, Tort Law: Text, Cases, and Materials (Oxford University Press, 2014) 1-937

Cases

  1. Baker v TE Hopkins & Son Ltd [1959] 1 WLR 966
  2. Blake v Galloway [2004] 3 All ER 315
  3. Condon v Basi [1985] 1 WLR 866
  4. Haynes v Harwood [1935] 1 KB 146
  5. Morris v Murray [1991] 2 QB 6
  6. Ogwo v Taylor [1987] 3 WLR 1145
  7. Wooldridge v Sumner & Anor [1963] 2 QB 43

Journals

  1. British Institute of International and Comparative Law, “Introduction to English Tort Law” [No Date] British Institute of International and Comparative Law 1-22
  2. Joshua Getzler, “Richard Epstein, Strict Liability, and the History of Torts” [2010] Journal of Tort Law 3, 1-28
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