Claims and Occupiers’ Liability

Introduction to Occupiers Liability

Occupiers’ liability deals with the risks posed and harms caused, by dangerous places and buildings.

Premises

Any fixed or movable structure including any vessel, vehicles, aircraft, driveways, buildings, fire escapes, scaffolding etc.

Liability

An occupier may be held liable if he/she has not taken reasonable care to ensure that those entering the premises are safe.

Occupier

A person who has a physical or legal control is the occupier of the premises.

  • A landlord who has leased out the premises will not be treated as an occupier unless he still exercises sufficient control.
  • Where a lease imposes on the landlord an obligation in respect of maintenance and repair of the property, the landlord will be held to owe a duty of care to all those who might reasonably be expected to be affected by any defects in the state of the premises so long as the landlord knows or ought to have known of the relevant defects.

Duty of Occupier

Occupiers of residential and commercial premises are under a legal duty to ensure the safety of all lawful visitors.

Visitors

Visitors include lawful visitors such as invitees, licensees and those who may enter under contractual obligations.

Examples

Family, Friends, Postman, Meter Reader all those people who are legally entitled to be on the premises.

Unlawful Visitors (Trespassers and Ramblers)

In very limited circumstances an occupier may also be held liable for injuries suffered by an unlawful visitor, where the occupier has knowledge of or reasonable grounds to believe in the presence of an unlawful visitor within the vicinity of danger.

Public right of way

Public right of way is not a part of occupiers’ liability and an occupier has no duty of care to a person who is injured on a public right of way.

The Standard of Care

The objective standard of care is applied and the question asked is whether the visitor is safe on the premises. It is the Safety of the Visitor which matters not the premises by themselves.

Children’s Safety

Where the visitors are children, a higher standard of safety is required from the occupier to ensure that the children are reasonably safe. An occupier may have to take into account that children are less careful than adults. As a result, the law imposes a higher standard of care to children than to older visitors.

Warnings /Notice of Warning

An effective warning, either verbal, visual or in writing may discharge an occupier from liability.

Independent Contractor

An injury occurred due to the work of an independent contractor or subcontractor, the occupier will not be held liable for injuries to the visitor if in all circumstances he has acted reasonably in entrusting the work to an independent contractor.

Example

  • Aramco a small business hired Fresco after a due diligence to carry out the necessary refurbishment work. Alan got injured while on the premises of Aramco and injury is a direct result of refurbishment work. Alan may have a claim again Fresco in negligence.

Disclaimer

While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information provided in this article, it does not constitute legal advice and cannot be relied upon as such. Each legal case and issue may have unique facts and circumstances, as a result legalally does not accept any responsibility for liabilities arising as a result of reliance upon the information provided. For further help and guidance, you can always rely on and seek advice from our experienced lawyers.