Occupier’s liability is the liability of the occupier of a premises, fixed or moveable structure for any injury suffered by a person who enter it, as a result of the state of the property. Occupier’s Liability is the liability of a person who has the occupation or control of a premises, for injury occasioned to anyone who enter it, as a result of the state of the premises, fixed or moveable structure. Occupier’s Liability is the tort which deals with the duty of care of an occupier or controller of a premises, fixed or moveable structure to persons who visit or enter theron, other than criminals. Thus occupier’s Liability is the liability of occupier’s for the safety of the persons who are on his premises whether or not they are there by his invitation permission and so forth.
A reasonable percentage of accidents or injuries occur on premises, or structures whether privately owned or a publicly owned. The purpose of the tort of the occupier’s Liability is to make an occupier Liable for injury suffered on his premises or property as a result of his negligence, or state of the property. The Liability of an occupier depends on the kind of entrant, for instance, whether the entrant is an invitee or trespasser. As a result of the complexity of the common law on occupier’s liability, the law on occupier’s liability has been simplified by statute in many common Law Countries.
Essentially, occupier’s liability is the tort that deals with the liability of an occupier for injury suffered by any person as a result of the state of the:
2.Building, houses and
3.Fixed structure: and
4.Moveable structure including any vessel, vehicle or aircraft.
Thus, occupier’s Liability is the tort which governs the liability an occupier, controller or manager of a premises, fixed or moveable structures, including any vessel, vehicle or aircraft, and the duty of care he owes to any person who comes into or enters such property. The Liability of an occupier is based on the tort of negligence, that is, the Law of negligence. Accordingly, occupier’s Liability is a part of the Law of negligence.
Definition of Property
Generally, property is anything capable of ownership, whether tangible or intangible. However, in the context of occupiers liability, the word “property” includes, Land, buildings, whether or not completed. Fixed and moveable structures, such as Equipments, Machinery, any motor vehicle, Earth moving equipments, and construction equipment, railway lines and coaches, any water going vessel, aircraft and so forth.
The laws governing occupier’s liability
In Nigeria, the laws governing an occupier’s liability to persons who enter his property are common law and statutes as follows:
1. Lagos State: Occupier’s Liability in Lagos state is regulated by the provision of the Law Reform (Torts) law which is modeled on the English occupier’s Liability Act, 1957, which has enacted to reform the confusing common law rules in England.
2. In all states where there is no law Reform (Torts) Law: Occupier’s Liability is governed by the common Law rules in Force in England to date, including its reformation in BRB v Herrington, with the Exception of English statutory enactments.
Who is an occupier?
An occupier “is a person who has possession, occupation, used, or some degree of control of a land, premises, fixed or moveable structure. Thus, as occupier need not be an owner. Excusive occupation is not necessary furthermore:
1. There may be more than one occupier in a premises at a time occupying different parts or floor and so forth.
2. A tenant, concessionaire ‘contractor’ licencee, local authority and so forth may be the occupier.
3. A person may be an occupier, even though he is not actually present in the premises to be in control or management of it.
Property Under Occupier’s Liability
The prosperities in respect of which an occupier may incur liability under law may be classified into three group as follows:
(1)Premises: The word “premises”, includes residential, and business premises, such as, offices, factory, cinema hall, recreation parks, buildings, construction sites and any landed property generally.
(2) Fixed Structures: The term fixed structures, includes any structure attached to a land, or any building and includes railway lines, bridges, electricity poles and cables, recreational facilities in a park, trees, generating plants, and and other fixed structure generally.
(3) Moveable structures: The term moveable structures, including moveable structure, such as, ship, boat vessel, motor vehicles of any kind, including earth moving and road construction vehicles, aircraft and so forth.
The person, or business in possession or control of any property is regarded as the occupier of such property, because he has the occupation, control or supervision of property or structure.
Hurdman Vs. North Eastern Railway Co.
The surface of the premises of the defendants company had been artificially raised by earth placed thereon. After rainfall on the defendant’s land, water made its way by seeping into the adjourning house of the plaintiff and caused damage. The plaintiff sued the defendant company was liable. The defendant was liable because, the rule of law is that you should so use your land as not to cause harm to another person.
IITA Vs. Amrani are
The plaintiff respondent had a moped accident on a road in the promises of the defendant appellant institute. The Plaintiff alleged that a deposit of sand negligently left along the road had caused the accident. The court of Appeal, Ibadan division held: that the action failed as negligence was not proved on the part of the defendant institute.
The Liability of an occupier at Common Law
At common law, the liability of an occupier to a person coming onto his premises depend on the category of entrant the persons falls into. At common law the persons entering a property are classified into three categories as follows:
We shall briefly examine the common law liabilities of an occupier to these categories of entrants.
An invitee is a person who is on a property by the express or implied invitation of the occupier.
He is someone who is asked expressly or impliedly to be on a property for the business or interest of the invitor.
An invitees is a person who has been invited to enter a property by an occupier or by any other person staying with the occupier. Thus, an invitee is a person who comes into a property with the consent of the occupier, for instance, for a business or matter in which he and the occupier have a common interest. For this reason he is also otherwise called a licensee with an interest, because he comes with the consent of the occupier pursuit of a common interest, that is a purpose in which both himself and the occupier has an interest. Examples of invitees, or a licensee with an interest are invited guester at an occasion, fee paying lodgers at a hotel, customers, clients of a business on the premises, such as an offices, supermarket, cinema hall, restaurant, amusement park, commercial vehicle, sanitary inspector, postman, electricity personnel and so forth.
At common law, an occupier owes a duty to exercise reasonable care for the safety of his invitees from danger, which he knows or ought to know about. On his own part. An invitee is also expected to use and exercise reasonable care for his own safety, whilst on a premises.
Businessman Docked For Theft Of Melon
Godwin Thomas,35,of North Bank, Makurdi, was on Friday arraigned before a Makurdi Magistrates’ Court for alleged conspiracy and theft of melon.
The prosecutor, Sgt. Godwin Ato, told the court that the case was reported by one Ukaan Shimana of behind NKST Church, North Bank Makurdi, at the ‘C’ Division Police Station, North Bank.
Ato said that the complainant kept three bags of Egusi (melon) worth N200,000 with Godwin Thomas, Ebuka Emmanuel and Titus Kpanor.
Ato said that the defendants were the custodians of a store along Ter-Guma Street in North Bank area of Makurdi.
The prosecutor said that the complainant later discovered that the bags were missing.
He alleged that the defendant and his friends had stolen the bags containing the melon when she went there to collect them.
Ato also said that Ebuka Emmanuel and Titus Kpanor were immediately arrested and charged to Chief Magistrate’s Court 8, North Bank.
The prosecutor said that during further investigation by the police, the defendant who initially was at large; was later arrested in connection with the crime.
The defendant, however, pleaded not guilty to the offence.
The prosecutor told the court that investigation into the matter had been completed and that other defendants were already standing trial at CMC 8 North Bank in Makurdi.
Ato said that the court should arraign the defendants in the same court.
He prayed the court to adjourn so that the case could be transferred to CMC 8 North Bank.
The magistrate, Mrs Ajuma Igama, granted the defendant bail in the sum of N100,000.00 with one surety who must be a civil servant with Benue Government.
Igama also ordered that the case file be transferred to CMC 8 for hearing and determination of the case.
She adjourned until Jan 24 for hearing.
Police Arraign Three For Damaging N1.8m Parking Iron Bars
The police yesterday arraigned three men in a Karmo Grade I Area Court, Abuja, for allegedly damaging parking iron bars worth N1.8 million.
The police charged Mohammed Musa, Innocent Adama and Izuchukwu Nwaigwe with two counts of joint act and mischief.
The Prosecution Counsel, Mrs Ijeoma Ukagha, told the court that the matter was reported at the Utako Police Station on Dec. 14, 2019, by one Adewole Adeola, who of Dove Court Estate, Abuja.
Ukagha alleged that the defendants intentionally damaged the iron bars and demarcation drums worth N1.8million at the Dove Estate.
She said the offence contravened the provisions of sections 79 and 327 of the Penal Code.
The defendants, however, pleaded not guilty to the charge.
The judge, Alhaji Inuwa Maiwada, admitted the defendants to bail in the sum of N200, 000 each, with a surety each in like sum.
Maiwada ordered that the sureties must be reliable and must deposit his or her identity card at the court registry for verification.
He also ordered that the sureties must resides within the jurisdiction of the court and his or she address must be verified by the court officer.
Maiwada adjourned the case until Feb. 12 for hearing.
Missing N35m: Defence Counsel’s Ill-Health Stalls Trial Of JAMB Official
The trial of Yakubu Jekada, one of the accused persons charged with the misappropriation of N35 million belonging to JAMB, was stalled in an FCT High Court, Maitama, due to the defendant counsel’s ill-health.
Jekada was first arraigned on May 31, 2018 by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) before Justice Peter Affen of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), sitting in Maitama, Abuja.
He was arraigned on a four count charge bordering on criminal breach of trust and dishonest use of JAMB funds to the tune of N11.189 million.
The JAMB official was accused of committing criminal breach of trust while being JAMB state coordinator for Plateau between 2009 and 2016 when he was entrusted with 11, 189 units of e-facility cards belonging to the Board which he disposed without duly rendering accounts to the Board.
On the resumed sitting on Tuesday, the Prosecution Counsel, Mr Ekene Iheanacho, informed the court that the matter was for continuation of trial and he was with his two witnesses.
Responding, Mr Gyang Zi, counsel to Jekada, prayed for an adjournment.
“I took ill yesterday before I left Jos. I am feeling funny, and I went to get some drugs thinking it would help me out.
“But it continued, I sincerely apologise for the inconveniences it would cause the court and others, including the witnesses,” Zi said.
Iheanacho said that the learned counsel has presented a sympathetic picture before the court based on health.
“So, we will not be objecting to his application for adjournment,” Iheanacho said.
After listening to the lawyers, Justice Peter Affen adjourned the matter until March 3, for continuation of trial.
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