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Rylands v. Fletcher - A civil claim

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The Rule in Rylands v Fletcher

This is one of the principles of law known as a legal cause of action which allows you to sue a person for damages in certain circumstances. The legal cause of action is known as a tort – a civil wrong upon which you can base a law suit.  This cause of action took its name from this particular case decided 1865 !

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Cause of Action

Civil Law and Claims


Statement of Claim

This tort relates to the situation where a dangerous activity escapes from one person’s land on to the land of another person and damage is caused.

It does not apply to fire in the absence of negligence or carelessness. That is because there is still an Act of Parliament in England in 1774 which applies to New Zealand and restricts claims in these matters.

But the rule in Rylands v. Fletcher is a fairly simple concept which imposes quite harsh and strict liability on a land owner who allows a dangerous substance or activity to escape on to the land of another person.

For example, if your neighbour stored explosives on his land and they became unstable and exploded causing damage to your property then you would very likely be able to recover under the Rule in

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