Liability under the Animals Act 1971—dangerous species

The following PI & Clinical Negligence practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Liability under the Animals Act 1971—dangerous species
  • Strict liability
  • Which animals are classified as belonging to a dangerous species?
  • Who is a keeper?

Liability under the Animals Act 1971—dangerous species

The Animals Act 1971 is referred to in this Practice Note as AA 1971.

Strict liability

A keeper of an animal which belongs to a dangerous species is strictly liable under AA 1971, s 2(1) for any damage that animal causes. All the claimant needs to prove is that the defendant was the keeper of the animal and that the animal caused injury.

Strict liability means that the claimant does not need to prove fault. The keeper is responsible for injury even if they were not negligent and whether or not they knew of the danger.

Which animals are classified as belonging to a dangerous species?

A dangerous species is a species:

  1. which is not commonly domesticated in the British Islands, and

  2. whose full grown animals normally have such characteristics that they are likely, unless restrained, to cause severe damage or any damage they cause is likely to be severe

In law, a dog or a horse cannot belong to a dangerous species because they are commonly domesticated in the British Islands. They fail the first part of the test.

The second part of the test can be satisfied in two ways. It

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