Animals Act 1971

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199903 As stated in the preamble to the Act, the purpose of the Animals Act 1971 is to make provision with respect to civil liability for damage done by animals and with respect to protection of livestock from dogs; and for purposes connected with those matters. This paper compares and contrasts an action under section 2(2) of the Act with one under section 4 of the same Act. The two provisions are as follows: Section 2(2): Where any damage is caused by an animal which does not belong to a dangerous species, any person who is keeper of the animal is liable for the damage, except as otherwise provided by this Act if:- .

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  1. the damage is of a kind which the animal, unless restrained, was likely to cause or which, if caused by the animal, was likely to be severe; and
  2. the likelihood of the damage or of its being severe was due to characteristics of the animal which are not normally found in animals of the same species or are not normally so found except at particular times or in particular circumstances; and
  3. those characteristics were known to that keeper, or were at any time known to a person who at that time had charge of the animal as that keeper’s servant or, if the keeper is the head of a household, if they were known to any other member of the household under the age of 16 who is also deemed to be a keeper of the animal.

Section 4: Where livestock belonging to any person strays on to land in the ownership of another and:

  1. damage is done by the livestock to the land or to any property on it which is in the ownership or possession of the other person; or
  2. any expenses are reasonably incurred by that other person in keeping the livestock while it cannot be restored to the person to whom it belongs or while it is detained in pursuance of section 7 of this Act, or in ascertaining to whom it belongs; the person to whom the livestock belongs is liable for the damage or expense, except as otherwise provided by this Act.

(2) For the purpose of this section any livestock belongs to the person in whose possession it is. The Act draws a distinction between animals which belongs to a dangerous species and those which do not belong to a dangerous species. The Act defines “species” as including “sub-species and variety[1]. The word “keeper” mentioned in section 2(2) refers the person who owns the animal or has it in his possession. This definition is provided under section 6(3) of the same Act.

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