Unauthorised visitors—the duty of care
Produced in partnership with Andrew Wilson
Unauthorised visitors—the duty of care

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

  • Unauthorised visitors—the duty of care
  • Background
  • Who is an occupier?
  • Who is an unauthorised visitor?
  • What duty do occupiers owe to unauthorised visitors?
  • Warnings and voluntary assumption of risk
  • What is covered under the duty?
  • What is the scope of the duty?

Background

The Occupiers’ Liability Act 1957 (OLA 1957) had been enacted to provide for a common duty of care owed by occupiers of premises. The duty was ‘common’ in that it was owed to various categories of lawful, or authorised, visitors, such as invitees, licensees and those whose right to be on the premises arose from a contract.

Under OLA 1957 no duty was owed to unauthorised visitors or trespassers.

The passing of the Occupiers’ Liability Act 1984 (OLA 1984) introduced a new duty, owed by occupiers to unauthorised visitors. It should be noted by practitioners that this duty is more limited than that imposed under OLA 1957 in favour of lawful visitors.

Who is an occupier?

An occupier is anyone that would be deemed an occupier under OLA 1957, see Who is an occupier?

Who is an unauthorised visitor?

An unauthorised visitor is anyone who does not have actual or implied permission to be on the premises.

What duty do occupiers owe to unauthorised visitors?

When does the duty arise?

There is an important distinction between the approach taken to authorised and unauthorised visitors. While, the common duty of care will be owed to the authorised visitor, in the case of an unauthorised visitor the claimant practitioner is concerned first to establish that a duty of care