Premises and lawful visitors in occupier’s liability claims
Produced in partnership with Andrew Wilson
Premises and lawful visitors in occupier’s liability claims

The following PI & Clinical Negligence guidance note Produced in partnership with Andrew Wilson provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Premises and lawful visitors in occupier’s liability claims
  • What are ‘premises’?
  • When will a potential claimant be a ‘lawful visitor’?
  • Rules relating to parkland and the countryside

What are ‘premises’?

Although the Occupiers' Liability Act 1957 (OLA 1957) governs the liability of those in occupation or control of premises, premises are not defined.

It is clear, however, that the term should be interpreted very broadly and includes:

  1. any fixed or movable structure, including any vessel, vehicle or aircraft: this includes both permanent and temporary structures such as scaffolding and ladders. In Furmedge v Chester Le Street District Council a company which had put in place a large inflatable sculpture was held to be liable when high winds removed it from its moorings

  2. land itself (so the owner of a park, field or garden will be caught by OLA 1957)

  3. railway lines

  4. airport runways

  5. harbour waters

When will a potential claimant be a ‘lawful visitor’?

In theory, the answer to this question is simple: anyone who enters premises with the actual (ie express) or implied permission of the occupier is a lawful visitor.

Permission, whether actual or implied, sounds like a relatively straightforward concept, and in respect of actual permission it usually is, but this is not always the case. Permission is dependent on a number of factors, including:

  1. the part of the premises to which access has been granted—per