Tutorial - Legal Aptitude - Law of Torts

No Fault Liability

The general principle of tortuous liability is that a person is liable to another when he breaches his legal duty. Hence ‘no fault, no liability.’ In certain situations, a person may be held liable even without any fault on his part. This is the principle of ‘no fault liability’. It is of two kinds – strict liability and absolute liability.

Essential Elements of Strict Liability:

  1. Dangerous thing – The person should bring some dangerous thing on his premises. ‘Dangerous thing’ means something which entails extraordinary risk to others or is likely to do mischief if it escapes. Ordinary things like water, electricity collected in extraordinary amounts may amount to dangerous things under this rule.
  2. Non-natural use- The person should use the land for some special purpose i.e., purpose which causes increased danger for others. Such purpose must be different from ordinary use of land. Regular use of explosives on one’s land is an example.
  3. Excape – The dangerous thing brought or collected on the land must escape the premises of such person.

Rule Of Strict Liability:

Strict liability is the principle which evolved from case of Rylands v Fletcher in the year 1868. This principle clearly states that a person who keeps hazardous substances in his premises, is responsible for the fault if that substance escapes in any manner and causes damages. This principle stands true if there was no negligence on the side of the person keeping it and the burden of proof always lies on the defendant to prove how he is not liable.

Essential Elements:

  1. A person is engaged in extremely dangerous enterprise that entails extraordinary risk to other
  2. Such dangerous thing must cause injury to the plaintiff by an accident or otherwise.

Rule Of Absolute Liability:

The rule of absolute liability was evolved in the case of M.C.Mehta v Union of India. This was a very important landmark judgment that brought in a new rule in the history of the Indian Law. The rule held that where an enterprise is engaged in a hazardous or inherently dangerous activity and it harm results to anyone on account of an accident in the operation of such hazardous or inherently dangerous activity resulting, the enterprise is strictly and absolutely liable to compensate to all those who are affected by the accident.

Example: J.S Industries I engaged in production of hazardous substances in New Delhi. On a fateful day, oleum gas escapes in the locality and severely injures several persons. The workers had taken utmost care to avoid any accident and there was no negligence on their part. Even so, the manufacturer is bound to compensate the injured persons for the damage. No defence is available.

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