An Advisory Report on a Liability Problem Question

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Objective of Research To advise Mr Wyke on whether he can escape liability for the incident caused by his dog Shep while under the control of Mr Derwent. Conclusion For the purposes of the Dog (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953 s 1(2), Shep would been regarded as to have worried the livestock of Mr Brown. And as of liability for the damage caused, by using the Dog (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953, Mr Derwent would be liable for the damages caused to the animals by Shep as he would be viewed as the keeper who was in charge of Shep at the moment of the incident meaning he would be guilty of the summary offence and liable to a fine as subjected in s.1 (6) of the 1953 Act. However, the Animal Act 1971 states that a ‘keeper’ is who is ‘in possession or the owner of the Dog’. As both Acts have different meaning to the word ‘keeper’, it would be up to the judge’s discretion to decide who would be guilty of the offence and be liable for the damages caused. Report Animals Act 1971 s.3 states that that “where a dog causes damages by killing or injuring livestock, any person which is a keeper of the dog is liable for the damages”. As Shep did not bite or attack the animals, the keeper would not be liable for such damages. S.1 (1) of the Dogs (Protection of livestock) Act 1953 states that “if a dog worries livestock on any agricultural land, the owner of the dog, and if it is in the chargeof a person other than its owner, that person also, shall be guilty of an offence under this Act.” looking at this it could be argues that both Mr Wyke who is the owner of the dog and Mr Derwent who was in charge of Shep at the time of the incident would be guilty under the Act. However, S.1 (4) of the Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953 prescribes that “theownerof a dog shall not be convicted of an offence under the Act in respect of the worrying of livestock by the dog if he proves that at the time when the dog worried the livestock it was in the charge of some other person, whom he reasonably believed to be a fit and proper person to be in charge of the dog.” At the moment of the incident, Shep was under the control of Mr Derwent often takes care of Shep when Mr Wyke is away, therefore he would be regarded as fit and proper to be in charge of the dog. In such case Mr Wyke would not be liable as Shep was not under his control at the time of the accident. In s 3(1) of the Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953 Agriculture land means “land used as arable, meadow or grazing land, or for the purposes of poultry farming…”. In Williams v Richards [1970] 114 Sol Jo 864, a cricket field was held to be an agricultural land as there were sheep been grazed on the field. Mr Brown is a famer who is using the cricket field to keep his ducks and rabbits therefore, it would be considered an agricultural land. By virtue of the Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953, s.1 (2)states that worrying livestock means— (a) Attacking livestock, or (b) Chasing livestock in such a way as may reasonably be expected to cause injury or suffering to the livestock, or, in the case of females, abortion, or loss of or diminution in their produce. [(c) Being at large (that is to say not on a lease or otherwise under close control) in a field or enclosure in which there are sheep.] In Ives v Brewer [1951] 95 Sol Jo 286 KBD it was held that poultry ceasing to lay eggs could result from the shock produced by the chasing of the dog. Shep satisfies the second and third criteria as other livestock (as stated in s.3 (1)) such as rabbits and ducks were affected by the chasing, especially the ducks which have stopped laying eggs and as he escaped his leash and ran onto the field which means he would not have been under close control of Mr Derwent. S 2(1) of the 1953 Act states that as respects an offence under the Act alleged to have been committed in respect of a dog on any agricultural land in England and wales, no proceedings shall be brought except-
  1. By or with the consent of the chief officer of police for the police area in which the land is situated, or
  2. By the occupier of the land, or
  3. By the owner of the livestock in question.
Mr Brown (the owner of the livestock) asked a village policeman to fine Mr Derwent, however, as seen above, proceedings can be brought by or with consent of a chief officer of police of the village but not the village police man. A chief officer of police is defined by Police Act 1996 s 101(1a) - “in as relation to a police force (s 2(a) appointed to that area), the chief constable.” An interpretation of this would be that a village policeman cannot bring about the proceedings against the owner or the keeper of the dog. As the owner of the livestock is also permitted to bring about the proceedings, Mr Brown would have to report to the chief officer of police of the village in order to bring about the proceedings against Mr Derwent or Mr Wyke. References Halsbury’s Laws (5th edn, 2008) Vol 2 para. 922 refers to the Animals Act 1971 s 6(3) for the meaning ‘keeper’. Halsbury’s Laws (5th edn, 2008) Vol 2 para. 924 outlines the meaning of “worrying livestock on agricultural land” as viewed in Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953 ss. 1(1), (2) (a) (c) (4), 2(1) (a) (b) (c), 3(1). LexisNexis Library used to research the both Acts and the case/s mentioned above. Police Act 1996, s 101(1), Vol 35 used for the meaning of chief officer of police. Description of Research Process Started with the Consolidated Table of Legislation volume of Halsbury’s Laws of England Vol 2 para. 921 and looked up Animals Act 1971 s.3 which summarises the law relating to the liability of the keeper of a dog that attacks or injures livestock. Para. 924 summarises on what bases the owner of a dog would be held liable for worrying livestock on agricultural land, as stated in the Dog (Protection of livestock) Act 1953 s.1 (1) which I referred to in order get a better understanding. I contrasted it with s.1 (4) of the 1953 Act which is also referred to in para. 924. Footnote 1 in para. 924 refers to the meaning of ‘livestock’ under the 1953 Act. In order to find the meaning of ‘Agricultural Land’, I looked at the footnote in para 924 which referred to the 1953 Act and to the case of Williams v Richards [1970] 114 Sol Jo 864, which I searched for on the LexisNexis Library. Para 924 summarises the meaning of ‘worrying livestock’ as in s.1 (2) (a) (b) (c) of the 1953 Act. Footnote 2 in para 921 refers to the Ives v Brewer [1951] 95 Sol Jo 286 KBD case relating to ‘worrying livestock and its effects on poultry’. To obtain a clearer understanding of the s2 (1) (a) the meaning of chief police of police, I looked at the Police Act 1996, s 101(1), Vol 35, which I retrieved from LexisNexis Library. To ensure that all the cases were up to date and accurate, I checked both LexisNexis Library and Westlaw cases.
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