Liability for Animals. Brief summary. Ancient origins in feudal system. Common law rules may apply Negligence Nuisance Trespass Even defamation!. The Animals Act 1971. The keeper of a dangerous animal is strictly liable for damage caused by it.
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Common law rules may apply
The keeper of a dangerous animal is strictly liable for damage caused by it.
Animals of a dangerous species defined in s.2
“a species which is not commonly domesticated in the British Isles and whose fully grown animals have such characteristics that they are likely, unless restrained, to cause severe damage, or that any damage they may cause is likely to be severe (s 6(2)”.
The keeper is liable for any damage (except as otherwise provided by the Animals Act 1971) if:
- the damage is of a kind which the animal, unless restrained, was likely to cause, or which if caused is likely to be severe;
- the likelihood of its being caused or of its being severe was due to characteristics of the animal not normally found in animals of the same species or not normally found except at particular times or in particular circumstances;
- those characteristics were known to the keeper or were at any time known to a person who at that time had charge of the animal as that keeper’s servant or, where the keeper is head of a household, were known to another keeper of the animal who is a member of that household and under 16 years of age (s 2(2)).
“cattle, horses, asses, mules, hinnies, sheep, pigs, goats, poultry and deer not in the wild state” (s 11).
Strict liability on owner of livestock where damage is caused by the livestock to land or to property on land in the occupation or possession of another person; or any expenses are reasonably incurred by the other person in keeping the livestock while it cannot be restored to the person to whom it belongs, or while it is detained, or in ascertaining to whom it belongs. (s.4)
Special defences apply