The Rule in Rylands v. Fletcher
Rylands v. Fletcher (1866) LR 1 Exch 265, (1868) LR 3 HL 330 lays down a rule of strict liability for harm caused by escapes from land applied to exceptionally hazardous purposes. Although historically it seems to have been an offshoot of the law of nuisance, it is sometimes said to differ from nuisance in that its concern is with escapes from land rather than interference with land. Accordingly, some authorities hold that there is no requirement — like that in the tort of nuisance — that the plaintiff be the owner or occupier of the land affected by the escape, though the point is far from uncontroversial (see 19.4). If this is so, the rule in Rylands v. Fletcher may be thought to have a role in protecting not just interests in real property but also interests in the person and in personal property. But its possible development into a general principle of strict liability for ultrahazardous activities has been obstructed by a number of limitations on its scope, notably the requirement of escape.
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