Bitten by a dog on someone’s land?

In UK the law gives high regard and consideration to owners of premises. Ones right to enjoy ones land is guarded very strictly.

That is not to say that a trespasser on to the land of that person will not have any protection under law, but merely the fact that there are numerous ramifications that the courts take into account when deciding whether the owners right of his land supersedes his responsibility to A) lawful visitors on to his land and B) to even trespassers.

A) Visitors

s.1 Occupiers Liability Act 1957. “An occupier of premises owes the same duty, the “common duty of care”, to all his visitors, except in so far as he is free to and does extend, restrict, modify or exclude his duty to any visitor or visitors by agreement or otherwise.”
This in essence tells us that the occupier has a “duty of care” towards visitors and is responsible for their safety.

However this responsibility is not absolute as if a person invited for a party treads on to the occupiers collection of snakes without the approval of the occupier and specifically restricted, but still goes on to take that risk, the courts in scenarios such as these do take in to account such risks as being un reasonable as to put a responsibility on to the occupiers to secure the visitor that is willfully ignoring the condition of his invitation on to the premises. So long as the occupier has made the existence of the danger on his premises to the visitors.

B) Trespassers

s.3(1) Occupiers Liability Act 1984. “An occupier of premises owes a duty to another (not being his visitor) in respect of any such risk if — (a) he is aware of the danger or has reasonable grounds to believe that it exists;
(b) he knows or has reasonable grounds to believe that the other is in the vicinity of the danger concerned or that he may come into the vicinity of the danger (in either case, whether the other has lawful authority for being in that vicinity or not); and
(c) The risk is one against which, in all the circumstances of the case, he may reasonably be expected to offer the other some protection.”

As explained earlier, traditionally the right of one not owing responsibility to an unwanted guest as to a danger on his premises has been very well guarded, however with the passing of the OLA 1984 the Parliament has tried to balance this with imposing a duty on to the occupiers under the three headed criteria given above as s.3(1).

Though the requirement under s.3(1) is quite strict and in most of the cases would mean that the injured person not being a lawful visitor will not be able to fulfill this requirement, but still the trend of the courts is towards reaching a balance between these phenomenon’s.

However if the injured person is a child, regardless of the fact if he’s a visitor or a trespasser the courts are more inclined to be sympathetic towards the victims and would expect the occupier to have exercised a greater degree of care.