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Liability for Animals


Even defamation! The Animals Act 1971. The keeper of a dangerous animal is strictly liable for damage caused by it. ... 'a species which is not commonly ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Liability for Animals

Liability for Animals
  • Brief summary

Ancient origins in feudal system
  • Common law rules may apply
  • Negligence
  • Nuisance
  • Trespass
  • Even defamation!

The Animals Act 1971
  • The keeper of a dangerous animal is strictly
    liable for damage caused by it.
  • Animals of a dangerous species defined in s.2
  • a species which is not commonly domesticated in
    the British Isles and whose fully grown animals
    have such characteristics that they are likely,
    unless restrained, to cause severe damage, or
    that any damage they may cause is likely to be
    severe (s 6(2).

  • the owner of the animal if it is in his
    possession or
  • the head of the household if the keeper is under
    16 years old or
  • if the animal ceases to be in the ownership or
    possession of any person, the keeper is the
    person who was the keeper immediately beforehand,
    until the animal is taken over by a new keeper.
    However, a person is not deemed to be the keeper
    merely because he has taken care of an animal to
    prevent it causing harm (s 6).

If damage is caused by animal of a non-dangerous
  • The keeper is liable for any damage (except as
    otherwise provided by the Animals Act 1971) if
  • - the damage is of a kind which the animal,
    unless restrained, was likely to cause, or which
    if caused is likely to be severe
  • - the likelihood of its being caused or of its
    being severe was due to characteristics of the
    animal not normally found in animals of the same
    species or not normally found except at
    particular times or in particular circumstances
  • - those characteristics were known to the keeper
    or were at any time known to a person who at that
    time had charge of the animal as that keepers
    servant or, where the keeper is head of a
    household, were known to another keeper of the
    animal who is a member of that household and
    under 16 years of age (s 2(2)).

  • The keeper of a dog which injures livestock is
    liable for any damage so caused (s 3 of the
    Animals Act 1971), except where the Act provides
  • Liability is strict and it is not necessary to
    show that the animal was known to have a
    dangerous propensity to chase livestock
  • Subject to special defences.

Trespassing livestock
  • cattle, horses, asses, mules, hinnies, sheep,
    pigs, goats, poultry and deer not in the wild
    state (s 11).
  • Strict liability on owner of livestock where
    damage is caused by the livestock to land or to
    property on land in the occupation or possession
    of another person or any expenses are reasonably
    incurred by the other person in keeping the
    livestock while it cannot be restored to the
    person to whom it belongs, or while it is
    detained, or in ascertaining to whom it belongs.
  • Special defences apply

Recent Case Law
  • Bryant v Harvey 2005 EWCA Civ 762
  • Mirvahedy v Henley 2003 2 All ER 401
  • Bowlt v Clark 2006 EWCA Civ 978