Sunday, 7 December 2014
Q: A friend of mine came over to my house for a birthday party. She tripped on some loose tiles and ended up fracturing her wrist when she fell. Am I responsible even though I didn't know?
A: Yes, you are responsible. As an occupier, you are responsible for injuries to certain persons on your property/premises; this is called occupier's liability.
Here’s the law surrounding this topic.
Who is an occupier?
According to Wheat v Lacon (1966), an occupier exercises a sufficient degree of control over the premises
In this case, 4 categories of Occupiers were identified:
- If the landlord rents the premises to a tenant, then the tenant is the occupier.
- If the landlord rents the premises, he remains liable for common areas such as stairs, gardens etc.
- If the landlord grants a licence, then both are occupiers.
- If the landlord engages an independent contractor, then the landlord remains the occupier BUT the independent contractor may be the occupier if he has a high level of control.
What are premises?
“… any fixed or moveable structure, including any vessel, vehicle or aircraft.”
Occupiers must keep premises in a reasonably safe condition. There must be “negligence”, “defect” or “danger” with the premises for a claim to succeed.
Categories of persons on property:
Anyone with expressed or implied permission to be on the property.
Includes permission granted by law:
Police Officers and Health Inspectors.
Jehovah’s Witnesses? Political Canvassers?
Robson v. Hallet (1967)
“...when a householder lives in a dwelling house to which there is a garden in front and does not lock the gate of the garden it gives an implied licence to any member of the public who has lawful reason for doing so to proceed from the gate to the front door or the back door...”
According to Addie v Dumbreck , there is no duty of care owed to trespassers. The only duty was not to inflict harm wilfully.