Actions under the rule of Rylands v Fletcher

While the legal action under the rule in Rylands v Fletcher seems largely obsolete, that is not to say that disasters of the nature of that which happened in Rylands do not still happen. 2006 saw the 40th anniversary of one such disaster, at Aberfan in South Wales where, on 20 October 1966, a land slide from a coal spoil heap destroyed a primary school and over 20 houses, killing over 130 people, mostly children. There are many video clips on the Internet relating both to the original disaster, its legal consequences and, more recently, to the 40th anniversary remembrance services.

Disaster at Aberfan

See the Wikipedia page for general info (with the usual caveats about accuracy, etc.):

An ‘Aberfan disaster documentary’ on YouTube:

An account of Aberfan, from June Legg, who was a nurse working at the time of the

An account of Aberfan, from June Legg, who was a nurse working at the time of the disaster

The 50-year anniversary of the Aberfan tragedy was recognised in October 2016. Poet Owen Sheers went back to the pit village and, using the people’s own memories, created a ‘film poem’ to commemorate the disaster (‘Green Hollow’). His account of his return to Aberfan and extracts from the film poem can be seen at:

‘Aberfan 50 years on: how best to remember the tragedy?’

Also see ‘Aberfan: The mistake that cost a village its children’ BBC Online – a timeline of how the disaster unfolded, again produced to mark the 50th anniversary:

Rylands by fire?

The most recent case (link below) examining this area looked at in what, if any, circumstances liability for damage caused by fire would arise under Rylands principles. Here, lawyers who appeared for the appellant discuss the Court of Appeal’s decision:
‘Court of Appeal judgment on Rylands v Fletcher strict liability for the escape of fire’

See also ‘Can there be Rylands v Fletcher liability for fire damage to a neighbouring property?’

And ‘Fire escape’, where Jonathan Fowles reviews, in the New Law Journal, the latest attempt to wrestle with strict liability for fire damage.

However, a recent judgment from Ireland (Feb 2015) confirms that liability for escape by fire there is strict:
Feeney -v- Andreucetti & ors [2015] IEHC 63


Rylands v Fletcher [1868]

Sedleigh-Denfield v O’Callaghan [1940]

Leakey & Ors v National Trust [1979]

Cambridge Water Co v Eastern Counties Leather plc [1994]

Delaware Mansions Limited and Others v. Lord Mayor and Citizens of The City of Westminster [2001]

Transco v Stockport MBC [2004]

D Pride & Partners (A Firm) v Institute for Animal Health [2009]

Lambert and others v Barratt Homes Ltd and another [2010]

Stannard (t/a Wyvern Tyres) v Gore [2012]

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