Act of a stranger

If the escape is caused by the unforeseeable act of a stranger, the defendant is not liable.

Liability under Rylands v Fletcher is now regarded as a particular type of nuisance. It is a form of strict liability, in that the defendant may be liable in the absence of any negligent conduct on their part. Imposing liability without proof of negligence is controversial and therefore a restrictive approach has been taken with regards to liability under Rylands v Fletcher.


1. Accumulation on the defendant's land

2. A thing likely to do mischief if it escapes

3. Escape

4. Non-natural use of land

5. The damage must not be too remote

Act of a Stranger is a defence to the rule in Rylands v Fletcher.


If the escape was caused by the unforseeable act of a stranger the Rylands v Fletcher rule does not apply.

In Perry v Kendricks Transport Ltd (1956) two young boys trespassed onto the defendant's land and threw a lighted match into the petrol tank of a disused bus. There was an explosion and the plaintiff was injured.

As the defendants had no control over the trespassers and they had not been negligent the Court of Appeal held that the defendants were not liable.

Parker LJ said that once the defendant proves that the escape was caused by a stranger the burden of proving negligence rests with the plaintiff.

In Rickards v Lothian [1913]. The defendant was not liable when an unknown person blocked a basin on his property and caused a flood damaging the flat below.


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