Occupiers' liability for visitors

If you occupy land, you should familiarise yourself with the duties you have for visitors, whether invited or unlawful.  

Many people believe that occupiers’ liability means that an occupier is responsible if an invited visitor suffers an injury, or worse, death, on their premises. But how far does that duty extend? What if an individual enters onto the land uninvited and is harmed?

The Occupiers’ Liability Act 1957 places a duty upon occupiers to ensure that lawful visitors will be reasonably safe when using the premises. Whilst the degree of care and reasonable steps to be taken will heavily depend on the circumstances of a case, the general duty is nonetheless relatively clear cut.

However, what some may not be aware of is that, according to the later Occupiers Liability Act 1984, an occupier of premises also has a duty to trespassers for any injury they may suffer whilst on the premises. This duty arises providing that the occupier:

  • was aware of a danger or had reasonable grounds to believe that it existed
  • knew or had reasonable grounds to believe that the trespasser would or may come within the vicinity of danger
  • may reasonably have been expected to offer the trespasser some protection

Naturally, the more evidence there is in place of steps taken to safeguard against risk, the less likely an occupier will be deemed to have not acted in a reasonable manner, although a thorough risk assessment would certainly be sensible for all those who own or
control land. 

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.