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Ryland v. fletcher


In Ryland v. Fletcher the rule lay down was Rules of strict Liability. As the word suggest it is a strict liability, even if the defendant was not negligent or the intention of the defendant is not to cause harm and took the entire necessary step and careful he would be still made liable under the rule of strict liability. 

In this case the defendant got a reservoir constructed through independent contractor, over his land for providing water to his mill. There were old disused shafts under the site of the reservoir, which the contractors failed to observe and so did not block them. When the water was filled in the reservoir, it burst through the shafts and flooded the plaintiff’s coal mines on the adjoining land. The defendant did not know of the shafts and had not been negligent although the independent contractor had been. Even though the defendant had not been negligent,. He was held liable. 

Justice Blackburn stated that the  rule of law is, that the person who for his own purpose brings on his lands keep there anything likely to do mischief if it escape, must keep it in at his peril, and if he does not do so, is prima facie answerable for all damages which is the natural consequence of it escape. He can excuse himself by showing that the escape was owing to the plaintiffs default or perhaps that the escape was the consequence of vis major or the act of god but as nothing of this short exists here it is unnecessary to inquire what excuse would be sufficient. 

For prove strict liability there are essential 3 elements to be proven: 

  1. There is some dangerous thins must have been bought by a person on his land.

  2. The thing thus bought or kept by a person on his land must be escape.

  3. There must be some non-natural use of land. 

Dangerous Thing: According to the rule of strict liability the liability for the escape of a thing from ones land arises provided the thing collected was a dangerous thing. The rule has been applied on many things like gas, water, wire, electricity, fire, trees, explosive etc.

Escape: Thing causing the damage must escape to the area outside the occupation and controls of dependence. Like if there is a projection of branches of poisonous tree on the neighbors land this amour to an escape and if the cattle lawfully there on the neighbor land are poisoned by eating the leave of a poisoned tree there, the defendant cannot be held liable because there is no escape of the vegetation. 

Non-natural use of land: Like in Ryland v. Fletcher case water collect in the reservoir in such a huge quantity was held to be non natural use of land. If the water is keeping for domestic purpose is a natural use of land. If prove some non natural use of land the water kept was must be for some special use with it increases danger to others, and merely by the ordinary use of land or such a use as is proper for the general benefit of the community.        



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