5.1 Occupiers' Liability - Introduction

Welcome to the first lesson of the fifth topic in this module guide - Occupiers’ Liability! A person who is in control of land or property should conduct themselves in a manner so as to avoid injuring others. This area of law is now largely regulated by statute, with the duties owed to lawful entrants viewed differently from that owed to trespassers. Case law interpreting the status of the entrant onto the land and the identity of the occupier will need to be understood in order to apply the law in this area.

At the end of this section, you should be comfortable understanding the rules encapsulated in the Occupiers’ Liability Acts 1957 and 1984. You should have an appreciation for the case law interpreting these statutes. The section begins by defining an occupiers’ liability before introducing the Occupiers’ Liability Act 1957. Within this heading, the section addresses how to identify an occupier, premises and lawful visitors. The duty of care is then discussed, including in relation to special visitors, warnings, independent contractors and defences. The Occupiers’ Liability Act 1984 is then discussed and trespasser is defined. Finally, the duty of care is then elucidated.

Goals for this section:

  • To be able to apply the law surrounding Occupiers’ Liability to a range of factual scenarios.

Objectives for this section:

  • To be able to explain the duty owed by occupiers to lawful visitors to their property.
  • To understand the duty owed by occupiers to unlawful visitors to their property.
  • To appreciate the distinctions between children and skilled visitors.
  • To know some of the possible defences to liability.

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Hands on Examples