Occupiers Liability for Dangerous Premises
Occupiers' liability is a field of tort law, codified in statute, which concerns the duty of care that those who occupy (through ownership or lease) real property owe to people who visit or trespass. It deals with liability that may arise from accidents caused by the defective or dangerous condition of the premises. By the expression “Premises” in the context of this topic is meant, not only, land and buildings but also vehicles, railway carriages, scaffolding and the like. The expression thus includes certain type of movable properties the distinguishing features of which, speaking generally, under the present topic is that the defendant remains in control of them and the plaintiff suffers injury by entering into them. The liability of occupiers of premises, except in relation to trespassers, is now governed under the English Law by the Occupiers Liability Act, 1957 which was enacted as a result of the report of a Law Reform Committee in 1952. The liability towards trespassers has also undergone considerable change by a liberal judicial approach in recent years and later by the Occupiers Liability Act, 1984. Who is an “Occupier”? Neither of the Occupiers' Liability Acts define "occupier". The definition must be sought in case law. The currently applicable test for the status of "occupier" is the degree of occupational control. The more control one has over certain premises, the more likely he is to be considered "occupier" for the purposes of the two Occupiers' Liability Acts. More than one person at the same time can have the status of occupier. Both tenants and licensees will be occupiers of property where they live. Licensees will usually share the status of occupier with the owner. Owners of let property will be occupiers of those areas, which they have not let by, demise and over which they have retained control (such as the common staircase in flat building). If the tenancy agreement imposes upon the owner the duty to carry out repairs, he will be co-responsible with the tenant for the conditions of the premises as occupier. Independent contractors working on the property may also be covered by the concept of "occupier" if they exercise sufficient control over the premises.
Occupiers' Liability Act 1957
The Occupiers' Liability Act 1957 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that covers occupiers' liability. The result of the Third Report of the Law Reform Committee, the Act was introduced to Parliament as the Occupiers' Liability Bill and granted the Royal Assent on 6 June 1957, coming into force on 1 January 1958. The Act unified several classes of visitors to property and the duty of care owed to them by the occupier, as well as codifying elements of the common law relating to this duty of care. It also covered the duty owed to parties to a contract entering the property and ways of excluding the liability for visitors. The Act introduced an element of liability for landlords who failed to maintain their properties and were as a result responsible for the injury of a non-tenant, something counter to the previous common law rule in English law. The Act is still valid law, and forms much of the law relating to occupiers' liability in English law along with the Occupiers' Liability Act 1984. The origin of this Act goes something like this. Prior to 1957, visitors to a property were classified in different ways, and this classification determined the duty of care an owner or tenant had to them. These were "contractors" such as hotel guests (the highest level of duty; a duty to ensure that the premises were fit for the purposes of the contract), "invitees", such as a customer in a shop (owed a less onerous duty; a duty to take reasonable care to prevent damage from an unusual danger), "licensees", such as a friend invited to a party (a less onerous duty; a duty to warn of any concealed danger or trap of which the occupier knew) and "uninvited persons" such...
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