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Study Notes

Key Case | Rylands v Fletcher (1868) | Rylands v Fletcher

A Level, BTEC Level 3
AQA, Edexcel, OCR, IB, Eduqas, WJEC

In this case the courts established a new tort, as an extension of nuisance, whereby a defendant is liable if they bring onto land a thing likely to do mischief if it escapes.


Claimant: Mine Owner

Defendant: Mill owner

Facts: The defendant ordered a reservoir to be built on his land by independent contractors, the defendant then maintained the reservoir. Water broke out of the reservoir and escaped onto the claimant’s neighbouring property causing damage. This occurred because coal underneath the defendant’s land had at some point been mined, this was at no point known to the defendant, but was negligently overlooked by the contractors.

Outcome: Liable

Legal principle: The 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.

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