Essay on Rylands v Fletcher Case Analysis

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TUTORIAL 14 – WRITTEN OPINION

TO : ALEC DAWSON
FROM : KAREN REBECCA EDWARDS
RE : LEGAL EAGLES

Summary of Facts
I am asked by the owner of The Friday Shop and the owners of the apartments (Claimants) to write an opinion to establish if they are able to claim for damages from Boutique Bugs (Defendant) for the amount of $1,100,000 based on the elements of the rule in Rylands v Fletcher.
Rylands v Fletcher (R v. F) is based on the doctrine of Strict Liability. This means that the defendant is liable for all damages caused by engaging in hazardous of dangerous activities. Blackburn J at 279 states “We think that the true rule of the law is, that the personal who for his own purposes brings on his lands and collects and keeps there
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Some activities are suitable in some areas and not in others, for instance blasting in the midst of a large city carries extraordinary risks but not in remote areas.
It is in my opinion that Boutique Bugs have met the element of “non-natural” use of land and “for its purposes”, where in this case is for the economic benefit of Boutique Bugs and is therefore liable in this instance.
Mischief when it escapes (Escaping Substances Doctrine)
I would refer to “escape” in this case as it was referred to in R v. F. Blackburn J in his ruling mentions that an element of control “keep it in his peril” to mitigate damages in the event of escape. This clearly states that the defendant has full liability for damages regardless of how the dangerous item escapes (element of Strict Liability). Therefore Boutique Bugs is responsible for both the escapes i.e escape from the research facility as well as from the accident.
The defence might argue that the context in which “escape” is used commented by Lord Macmillan in obiter in Read v Lyon is “where the defendant has occupation or, or control over, land to a place which is outside his occupation and control”.
Did Boutique Bugs have control over the escape of the bugs? Was the escape of bugs foreseeable?
1. The escape of borer bugs by eating through the plastic containers
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