English Tort Law/Occupiers liability

Employers liability1957 Act

Occupiers liability

Occupiers' liability is a doctrine, which was part of the common law, associated with the duty owed to one party whilst they are on land belonging to a second party (or occupier). The occupier is sometimes the land owner but can also be a tenant, an employee or agent. Although it suggests physical occupation, "occupier" really means someone who controls the land. Occupiers' liability is a specific type of negligence involving damage caused by the breach of a duty of care.

Liability also includes the concept of remoteness and can arise for omissions by the occupier in relation to the reasonable safety of visitors. In England and Wakes, the common law concept has been largely replaced by two significant statutes that concern occupiers liability:

  • Occupiers Liability Act 1957, focussed on 'lawful visitors'
  • Occupiers Liability Act 1984, covering people other than 'lawful visitors'.

Different levels of protection are expected under the two pieces of legislation with a higher level of protection afforded to lawful visitors. Both the Occupiers Liability Acts of 1957 and 1984 impose an obligation on occupiers rather than land owners. The question of whether a particular person is an occupier is a question of fact and depends on the degree of control exercised. The test applied is one of 'occupational control' and there may be more than one occupier of the same premises:

Employers liability1957 Act