Generally, in order to hold someone accountable under the Tort Act, the negligence, intentions, etc. of the responsible person have to be considered and if there is such negligence or intention, a person is accused or is accused under the Tort Act.
But there are some special cases in the Tort Act where a responsible person, whether he is negligent or not, cannot avoid his liability in any way. Such liability is called Absolute Liability.
Strict Liability is just like Absolute Liability. However, in this case, partial negligence (Contributory Negligence and Voluntary Venture) may be applicable in some cases.
The principle of absolute liability and strict liability has been established in the case of the renowned Rylands v. Fletcher (RYLANDS-VS FLETCHER). Which applies to liability insurance.
Facts of the Case:
According to the facts of the case, the plaintiff was the occupier of some of the mines and the defendants owned the mill located next to the plaintiff’s land. Defendants wish to build a reservoir on their land and hire qualified engineers and contractors to build it.
The defendants had some unused mines on the land and there were tunnels above the land with the vertical pillars of those mines and those pillars could not be clearly seen as they were full of soil.
When the water supply is filled after the construction of the reservoir, the water flows through the pillars and floods the plaintiff’s mines and this causes damage to the plaintiff.
The plaintiff filed a compensation suit and the plaintiff received a decree of compensation despite the negligence of the defendants and it was proved to be true that the defendant was not negligent yet the defendant was held liable and the judgment was disposed of on the basis of appeal by the House of Lords.
In this case, the rule established by Blackburn J is that when a person collects and keeps a substance on his land for his own purposes, which, if left unattended, may harm others, he puts it at his own risk, and if it is removed, he harms others. The person is responsible for certain liabilities. That is, he is responsible for the loss, even if it is not due to his will or negligence.
It should be noted here that this policy is not limited to the mentioned cases, the same is applicable in other cases as well. This principle applies to dangerous animals, gases, toxins, fires, etc.
Author: Senior Executive Vice President, Pragati Insurance Limited.