TORT 2.1B LIABILITY FOR ANIMALS (DEFENCES)
LIABILITY FOR ANIMALS; DEFENCES
Fault of the plaintiff: e.g. In Sycamore V Ley, the plaintiff was held to be at fault where he was teasing the dog. In Nelmes V Chief Constable of Avon and Somerset, no damages where it was the plaintiff (claimant) that kicked the dog which then bit him. Also the plaintiff (i.e. injured person) can be said to be at fault if he was trespassing on the defendant’s (i.e. keeper) premises and the animal attacked.
Consent of the victim/plaintiff: in Rands V McNeil, the plaintiff was a zookeeper/wild animal trainer, the court held that he should expect dangers that come with the job.
Act of nature or Novus Actus: for example where the animal got frightened by the sound of thunder and becomes vicious/violent.
Other defences include; –Contributory negligence of the plaintiff which resulted to the attack. –Act of an authorised third party:–Flemming V Oor. And so on.
Note: For the keeper to claim these defences, he should however be shown to come with clean hands and taken reasonable steps to prevent the occurrence of the injurious event. E.g. he should not maliciously keep the animal as a trap-Sarch V Blackburn.
Remedies: Initially, the people or community resolved to killing the animal as was seen in the case of Uzoahia V Atu. However, now the court may award damages against the keeper, grant an injunction or an order of abetment. It could also seize and confine the animal in a zoo.
Note (before we conclude this topic) that: where a plaintiff is unable to show that the ferocious tendency of the animal was known, he may sue in negligence-Draper V Hodder. There could also be liability for animals in other torts like nuisance (where one collects animals to disturb his neighbour-Abiola V Ijeoma). One who accumulates animals in his compound and they escape and cause harm elsewhere may be liable under Rylands V Fletcher. One who sets his animal to a plaintiff may be liable for assault and battery and so on.
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