STRICT LIABILITY by ANJU ESTHER BALAKRISHNAN at LEXCLIQ.

Strict liability states that any person who possesses hazardous substances on his premises will be held responsible if such substances escape the premises and cause any damage and were evolved in the case of Rylands vs Fletcher. In the case, Fletcher had a mill on his land and to power, the mill he builds a reservoir, however, due to some accident, the waters from the reservoir flood the coal mines owned by Rylands, and hence a suit was filed against Fletcher. The court held that the defendant build reserve at his own risk and accident happen would be the liability of the defendant.
Hence according to the case, we can come to the conclusion that if a person brings something dangerous on his land decides to give them and that thing could likely cause damage if it escapes then the person would be answerable for the damage caused. He would be held accountable even if he used it diligently and the liability would not be imposed because of his negligence but because of the substance kept on his land which is hazardous and dangerous.

ESSENTIALS OF STRICT LIABILITY

The substance has to be dangerous. The defendant would be held strictly liable only if the substance falls in the definition of dangerous and would likely cause some mischief or harm if it escapes.

The material or substance should have escaped from the premises and shouldn’t be within the reach of the defendant after the escape. It was held by the court that if the property of the plaintiff undersea premises of the defendant and gets harmed by the substance then the defendant would not be liable and only if is the material leaves the property of the defendant would the defendant be liable.

In order to constitute a strict liability, there should be a non-natural use of the land. In the case of Rylands vs Fletcher, the reservoir was considered to be non-natural, storage of water for domestic use could be natural however for the purpose of energizing a mill was considered non-natural.

These elements need to be satisfied in order to constitute a strict liability of the defendant.

EXCEPTIONS TO THE RULE

If the defendant can prove that it was the plaintiff’s fault that the damage was caused and it was the plaintiff who came in contact with the dangerous thing, then he would not be held liable.

If the event happened is something that is beyond the control of any human being and can be considered as an Act of God then the defendant would not be liable for the loss caused because of such unforeseen and natural events that could not have been prevented in any way.

If the damage were caused due to the actions of the third party then the defendant would not be held liable. However, this third party must not be associated with the defendant in any manner and if the actions of the third party could have been foreseen and avoided and yet the defender did not take due care then he would be held responsible.

If the defendant can prove that the plaintiff provided his consent then he would not be held liable, here, the principle of violenti non fit injuria is followed.

These are the expectations of strict liability and they can be used as a defence against the petition.

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