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Occupiers' Liability

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Occupier's liability is a liability owed to all entrents of a premise by the occupiers of the premise. A person within a premise (excluding occupiers) will fall within one of the following five types of entrent:


There are two main statutes governing occupier's liability:

  • Occupiers' Liability Act 1957
  • Occupiers' Liability Act 1984

The former is concerned with entrents who has some form of consent/license to enter the premise, whereas the latter statute governs trespassers. The '84 act subject occupiers to a considerably lower standard of care.


In order to establish a duty of care under the former OLA, the claimant must show the following:

  1. The defendant is an occupier ("sufficient control" as per Lord Denning, Wheat v Lacon [1966]).
  2. The negligence must have occured on a premise, OLA'57 s.1(3)(a).
  3. The premise must have been inherently dangerous (static danger), the danger must not be obvious, and the danger cannot be a result of dangerous activity (Lord Denning, Dunster v Abbott [1954]).


s.1(1)(3) sets out the test for duty of care owed to trespassers:

  1. The occupier must know of the danger and has reasonable grounds to believe it exists (Donoghue v Folkestone; Fiberglass container in Rhind v Astbury Water Park)
  2. The occupier must have knowledge of the trespasser's presence in the vincity of danger (Donoghue v Folkestone)
  3. It must be reasonable to expect the occupier to provide protection (Young v Kent).

The third requirement is especially difficult to satisfy Young v Kent is one of the few that have been fortunate enough to succeed under OLA'84.

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