This chapter is concerned with the liability of an occupier of premises for injury caused or damage done to persons or their property while on the premises. The law in this area is now statutory and is governed by the 1957 and 1984 Occupiers’ Liability Acts. This chapter does not deal with the situation where things done an the occupiers’ premises affect other premises; this is the province of the law of ‘nuisance’ and Rylands v. Fletcher (see Ch. 19 and 20). The 1957 and 1984 Acts replaced a somewhat complex regime of common law, distinct from that developed from Donoghue v. Stevenson, under which an occupier owed different standards of duty depending on the status of the person who came onto his land. Those entering under a contract were owed the highest duty, while progressively lower duties were owed to those entrants the law classified as invitees, licencees or trespassers. The position today is that the Occupiers’ Liability Act 1957 governs liability to lawful visitors and the 1984 Act governs the duty owed to those entrants loosely referred to as ‘trespassers’. In the first part of this chapter we will examine the Occupiers’ Liability Act 1957.
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