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Perry v Kendricks Transport [1956] WLR 85  Court of Appeal

The defendant kept an old coach that needed repair on their land adjoining a piece of wasteland. The claimant, a young boy of 10 approached two other boys on the wasteland close to the coach. As he got close, the boys lit a match and threw it into the petrol tank of the coach causing an explosion which left the claimant with severe burns. The claimant brought an action under the principle set out in Rylands v Fletcher.

Held:

The defendant was not liable as the escape was caused by the deliberate action of a third party.

Lord Justice Jenkins:

“As to the alternative contentions that the defendants are liable, even if they were not negligent, on the principle of Fletcher v. Rylands. I am prepared to accept the view that this motorcoach in the condition in which it was on the defendants' land was an object of the class to which the rule in Fletcher v. Rylands applies, that is to say, that it was for this purpose a dangerous thing, so that the defendants were under an obligation under the rule to prevent it, or the dangerous element in it escaping on to a neighbour's land and doing damage there. It was a dangerous thing for this purpose in that its tank contained inflammable petrol vapour. But the fact that it was a thing to which the rule in Fletcher v. Rylands applied, and the fact that the vapour escaped and was ignited and did damage, cannot conclude the matter against the defendants, because, as is well settled, an occupant of land cannot be held liable under the rule if the act bringing about the escape was the act of a stranger and not any act or omission of the occupier himself or his servant or agent, or any defect, latent or patent, in the arrangements made for keeping the dangerous thing under control. In this case, it seems to me plain that the escape was caused by the act of a stranger or strangers in the shape of one or both of the two small boys Whittakar and Rawlinson.”
 
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