What precisely is meant by ‘premises’ and ‘occupier’:
A premises covers any fixed or movable structure, such as a warehouse, car park, lift, scaffolding, ladders and chairs.
A person in control of the properties, land or spaces where they are legally in charge. This may be a company, an individual, a partnership or local authority.
The Occupiers' Liability Act 1957 versus The Occupier’s Liability Act 1984
Claimants in occupier’s liability cases can be divided into two main categories:
- Lawful visitors – entitled to be on a premises
- Trespassers – not entitled to be on a premises
The Occupier’s Liability Act 1957 - deals with accidents involving lawful visitors
The Occupier’s Liability Act 1984 - deals with accidents involving trespassers.
Under both Acts, the person who occupies the land can be held liable when injury or harm has occurred to another person while on that land.
Common law duty of care
A person who enters the premises is someone who has been invited onto the premises by the occupier. Under a common law duty of care applied to all lawful visitors, the occupier should see that “the visitor will be reasonably safe in using the premises for the reason which he or she is invited or permitted to be there.”
The fact that it is a common law duty of care means that it is applied to all lawful visitors.
It is important to know that the duty is to make the visitor safe, not the premises.
Under the 1957 Act, a warning or notification regarding an unsafe aspect of the premises can be sufficient to meet an occupier’s duty of care to keep the visitor safe.