Rylands v Fletcher

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Editorial Board of the JCLR: Managing Editor: Lord Justice Cocklecarrot M.R. · General Editor: Sir Jerrold Baxter-Morley, Q.C. · Principle witness: Mrs. Pinterman
Common law | Litigation | Contract | Tort |

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Rylands v Fletcher [1868] UKHL 1Let me Google that for you is, with Donoghue v Stevenson one of the foundational cases in the common law relating to tort.

The defendant, Fletcher, owned a mill and employed a contractor to build a reservoir — dramatic chord — over a disused mine — on their land. The contractors noticed the mines, but continued to work without blocking them up.

The reservoir burst. It leaked into the disused mine. From there it spread to a working mine owned by the claimant who happened to be — dramatic chord — a neighbour by the name of Rylands.

By analogy to the rule relating to domestic animals, Blackburn J thought Fletcher should be responsible for the damage as it was a natural consequence of a propensity of penned water that Fletcher knew about (that it was liable to make things wet if it escaped).