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Published: Wed, 07 Mar 2018
Miles v Forest Rock Granite Co (Leicestershire) Ltd (1918) 34 TLD 500
Escape of something naturally occurring on the premises through non-natural use of land
The defendant had brought some explosives onto his land and used them to blast rocks which had already been naturally occurring on his land. As a result of this blasting, some of the rock fragments flew onto nearby land below, more specifically on the nearby highway, where they hit and injured the claimant. The claimant brought an action under the rule in Rylands v Fletcher, which had established strict liability for damage done as a result of an escape of a thing from one’s land which was brought onto the land by the defendant and which could be expected to cause such damage.
The issue in this case was whether the fact pattern fit the rule in Ryland v Flecther which related to damage done by things not naturally occurring on the defendant’s premises, whereas in this case the damage was done by rocks which had been naturally occurring and which the defendant had not brought onto his premises.
The court held that there was strict liability here as per Rylands v Flecther, since there had been an escape of a sorts, namely the blast. While the rocks were not brought onto the land, the defendant had brought the explosives onto his land which caused the rocks to fly out through the blasting. A non-natural use of the land could in effect extend the rule to damage done by naturally occurring objects.
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