Case Study: Rylands V. Fletcher's Case In Tort Law

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Case Study: “Rylands v Fletcher” Rylands v Fletcher is a famous landmark case in tort law, it has been decided by the House of Lords in 1868. This case served as the foundation of the doctrine of strict liability for abnormal activities, where a defendant could be held liable for damages or losses suffered by others even in the absence of any proof of negligence. Facts and lower court’s decision In 1860, John Rylands hired some competent independent contractors to construct a reservoir on his land for the purpose of supplying a mill he owns with water. Except for contracting with the engineers, the defendant did not have any other part in the construction. During the excavating process, the contractors found a number of disused charcoal shafts and tubes under the land filled with soil and wreckages which are connected with Thomas Fletcher 's neighboring mine. However, they failed to shut these shafts properly and left them opened. As a result of their negligence, water began to seep through these shafts and flooded Fletcher 's mine shortly after having the reservoir filled for the first time causing £937 worth of damages. Consequently, Fletcher brought a claim against John Rylands and the manager of the project Jehu Horrocks to the Liverpool Assizes. The court appointed an arbitrator to consider the case who decided that Rylands and Horrocks are not liable for Fetcher as they did not know about the mine shafts, and considered the contractors liable for negligence. Later on,
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