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occupier's liability


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The liability of an occupier of land or premises to persons on the land for the condition of the premises and things done there. The occupier for this purpose is the person or persons exercising control over the premises (Wheat v Lacon [1966] AC 522 (HL). The common-law rules on occupier's liability have been replaced by statutes. The English statutes distinguish between visitors and other persons on land. The Occupiers' Liability Act 1957 imposes on an occupier a common duty of care to all his visitors (i.e. those who enter by his invitation or with his permission) to see that they will be reasonably safe in using the premises for the purpose for which they were invited or permitted to be there. The duty of care may vary according to the type of visitor, e.g. children. Under the Occupiers' Liability Act 1984, an occupier only owes a duty to persons other than visitors (i.e. trespassers and persons who enter lawfully but without the occupier's permission) if the occupier is aware or has reasonable grounds to know of a danger on the premises and that a person may be in the vicinity of the danger and the risk is one against which he may reasonably be expected to offer some protection. The duty, if any, is confined to taking such care as is reasonable in all the circumstances to see that the danger due to the state of the premises does not cause death or personal injury to the person concerned. The duty may be discharged by taking such steps as are reasonable to give warning of the danger or to discourage persons from incurring the risk. There is no duty to warn of obvious risks (Tomlinson v Congleton Borough Council [2003] UKHL 47, [2004] 1 AC 46).

In Scotland, the Occupiers' Liability (Scotland) Act 1960 requires an occupier to show to all persons entering the premises such care as is reasonable in all the circumstances of the case.

Subjects: Law.


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