rule in Rylands v Fletcher

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The principle that a person “who for his own purposes brings on his lands and collects and keeps there anything likely to do mischief if it escapes, must keep it in at his peril, and if he does not do so, is prima facie answerable for all the damage which is the natural consequence of its escape”. It was first stated in the case Rylands v Fletcher (1868) 3 HL 330, in which the defendant had a reservoir built on his land that caused flooding of the claimant's mine. The rule creates a tort of strict liability for extraordinary and unusual things, accumulated on the land, that give rise to an exceptionally high risk of danger or mischief if they escape. There must be an escape on to another's land and only those with an interest in land may sue, as this tort is considered to be a species of nuisance (Transco plc v Stockport Metropolitan BC [2003] UKHL 61, [2004] 2 AC 1). The rule only protects rights to and enjoyment of land and liability is limited to damage of a type that is reasonably foreseeable (Cambridge Water Co Ltd v Eastern Counties Leather plc [1994] 2 AC 264 (HL).

Subjects: Law.

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