RYLANDS V FLETCHER CASE
iv.EFFECTS OF THE CASE
v.EFFECTS OF THE CASE IN INDIA
• A person may be liable for some harm even though he is not negligent in causing the same or does not intentionally cause it or is careful or has taken steps to prevent the same.
• e.g., The defendant is liable to the neighbor for emission of harmful gases with offensive smell from his big ore melting furnace, or constructing a dam which diverted water from its natural channel on the land of the neighbor. Such liability is called Strict Liability.
RYLANDS v FLETCHER
Both Rylands and Fletcher were neighbours.
Rylands owned a mill for whose energy requirement he constructed a water reservoir on his land. He gave this work to independent contractor and engineers. Due to the negligence of the private contractor, the shafts that led the way to Fletcher’s mine were broken which led the water into the mine, causing heavy loss to him. Fletcher sued Rylands.
• The court of Exchequer dismissed the claim stating that there is no valid case.
• The court of Exchequer chamber again overruled the judgment in the favor of the Plaintiff and the judgment was announced by Blackburn J. on the behalf of all the six judges and gave the rule of strict liability.“The person who, for his own purpose , brings on his land and collects and keeps there anything likely to do mischief if it escapes, must keep it in this peril ; and if he does not do so is prima facie answerable for all damage which is the natural consequence of it’s escape”.
• Rylands was not satisfied with this decision and appealed in the House of lords and the appeal was again overruled by Lord Crain's, he agreed to the decision of Blackburn J, and added a condition that the land from which escape has occurred must have been used in a NON-NATURAL, inappropriate or unusual manner.
EFFECTS OF THE CASE
This case laid the principle of absolute liability.
It stated that an occupier of land who brings onto it anything likely to do damage if it escapes, and keeps that thing on the land, will be liable for any damage caused by an escape. This rule laid the theory of unnatural use of land and creation of risk. The rule hence created was further used in few cases-
a.Cambridge Water Co. Ltd v. Eastern Counties Leather Plc. b.Transco plc v. Stockport MBC
EFFECTS OF THE CASE IN INDIA
A more stringent rule of strict liability than the rule in Rylands v. Fletcher was laid by the Supreme Court in the recent case of M.C. Mehta v. Union of INDIA. The court held that the rule of Rylands v. Fletcher which evolved in 19th century did not fully meet the needs of modern industrial society with highly developed scientific knowledge and technology were hazardous or inherently dangerous industries were necessary to be carried out on as a part of the development programme and that it was necessary to lay down a new rule not yet recognised by the English law, to adequately deal with the problems arising in a highly industrialised economy.
Rylands vs. Fletcher paved the way for a new way of deciding cases related to owner’s liability. There was a requirement to have a law that could increase the duty of the owner to take care. The world is progressing very fast and disputes regarding duty of care are increasing rapidly, so there was a need to put up a law which could sort these problems. This was done by this case. Rule of strict liability was not followed in India but it was modified to Absolute liability which is being used now-a-days.
1.Some Inherently dangerous thing must have been bought by the person oh his land.
2. That thing must ESCAPE from the land....