This concern with social utility was not mentioned in the early case law, but surfaced in a couple of early twentieth century authorities, where it formed one element of a wider backlash against the strict liability rule. He did not know he was doing so; but he did it as much as though he had poured it into an open channel which led to the mine without his knowing it. This explains why the defendants in Rylands were liable for the acts of their independent contractors a full ten years before such liability was imposed in nuisance. Other writers who have emphasised the differences between the two causes of action are R. It may be that there is really no difference — these days — between the action and the way similar problems could be dealt with in nuisance or negligence. As we have seen, a use is non-natural because it is extraordinary or unusual:

In determining whether a use is a natural use, regard must be had to what the occupier did. Fleming, The Law of Torts 9th ed. There are two notions which have threatened to reduce the conceptual space between negligence and non-natural use, the first of which is that a use of benefit to the community is for that reason a natural one. A Historical Introduction to the Law of Obligations at pp. Imagine the scenario where a factory storing chemicals or oil near a riverbank or lake had an escape which polluted the water. Finally, the rationale of a principle of this kind is far from clear.

Quarries Ltd [] 2 Q. And, if not, what should become of the rule in Rylands v Fletcher?

See also per Lord Bingham at [5]: Gas Acts. Writing in the s, Prosser posed the following question: This in turn led to the extension of the rule beyond the case of neighbouring property owners, and into the realm of personal injuries. Nuisqnce, Negligence in Nuisznce Law at p. Do you think the courts in this country should follow the Australian High Court and formally view the action under Rylands v Fletcher as a species of negligence? The action the plaintiff brought — which at the beginning looked like an ordinary negligence claim — was referred to an arbitrator, who found that the defendants had not been at fault, privaet that the contractors had been negligent in failing to block up the shafts.


The argument we are dealing with here is the [] contention that the gap between Rylands v Fletcher liability and the tort of negligence has narrowed so much that the two causes of action are now virtually indistinguishable.

Chapter 19: Answers to end-of-chapter questions

Nor were the other justifications provided for rejecting this option persuasive. See also Transco, n. Rejecting assimilation of the rule into private nuisance leaves three other options: Although there can be no fault without foreseeability, there can be foreseeability without fault: The first is that it is unwise to base a sweeping reformulation of the law on a single article, particularly when it flies in the face of an abundance of authority to the contrary.

private nuisance and rylands v fletcher essay

Clearly, having strict liability for substances or items housed on land, should they ‘escape’ to another’s land and cause damage, is a tool that could well be utilised by environmentalists. Log In Sign Up. It may be that there is really no difference — these days — between the action and the way similar problems could be dealt with in nuisance or negligence.

private nuisance and rylands v fletcher essay

But to extrapolate from this citation as Newark did that Blackburn J. On the practical significance of the burden of proof point, see Transco, n. It is much nearer the truth to say that an accident of definition, or lack of definition, of ajd, may bring the same set of facts within either kind of liability, but that they differ notably in details, and that it is only where none of these differences of detail is in question that it is immaterial whether the action is for nuisance or is on the rule in Rylands v Fletcher.

Although Murphy also emphasises the distinctiveness of Rylands v Fletcher, many of his arguments are different from the ones on which I rely. Ltd [] 1 All E.

In Rylands v Fletcher, the involvement of independent contractors makes no difference as the leading case demonstratesbut in nuisance the general rule is that an occupier who employs a contractor to privaet work on his nuisamce is not liable if unlawful interference results, though there are some exceptions, most notably where the task on which the contractor was engaged of its very nature involved a risk of damage to a third party.


The first is that its application across the board would transform the law of tort: Gearty has argued that if cases of physical damage to lfetcher were hived off into negligence, we would be left with a slimmed down, more coherent tort. The importance of the case for present purposes lies in a passage in Blackburn J.

Oxford University Press | Online Resource Centre | Answers to end-of-chapter questions

Ltd [] 1 W. When the case came before the courts, the judiciary was divided between advocates of the fault principle and proponents of an older model of strict liability. Enter the email address you signed up with and we’ll email you a reset link. This principle is not limited to nuisance. By a majority, the court held that on these facts the plaintiff could not recover his losses from the defendants. Despite the opening up of the category of non-natural use in Cambridge Waterthis aspect of a claim now seems so limited that it may ensure that the Rylands action serves little useful purpose in a modern age again, see Stannard [].

The design and construction of the reservoir were left in the hands of independent contractors. There are three aspects to this objection. For similar analyses, see V. As was made clear in Hunter v Canary Wharf Ltd,72 if a wrong is characterised as one against land, then it follows that claims cannot be brought for personal injury, and that only those with an interest in the land affected have standing.