• In the case of Perry v Kendricks [1956] 1 W.L.R. 85, it was held that the Rylands v Fletcher rule may cease to be applicable if the harm done is caused by the mischievous, deliberate, and conscious acts of a stranger unless the claimant can show that the stranger’s act was one which the occupier could reasonably have anticipated and guarded against.

Facts of the Case

  • D, a coach transport company, owned a piece of land used for parking their vehicles. D performed careful and regular inspections of the vehicles.
  • Before leaving a Leyland coach on this land, D emptied the petrol tank and screwed a cap on the entrance pipe.
  • Children would often play on any parked coaches, but whenever sighted were chased away by D’s employees.
  • C, a boy of 10, came across two other boys on the bank of D’s land when heading home from school.
  • The two boys had found the Leyland coach, with the cap removed by persons unknown. They threw a lit match into the petrol tank and jumped back.
  • C had approached the two boys when they threw in the match. The resulting explosion of the petrol tank left him seriously injured.


  • Was the coach a ‘dangerous’ object, and if so were D negligent in leaving a coach where children could access it?
  • Was D liable for the ‘escape’ of the petrol fumes from the coach if this resulted from the actions of a third party?

Held by the Court of Appeal

  • Finding for D, that D had not been negligent in leaving the coach where children could reach it.
  • Rylands v Fletcher does not apply where there had been a conscious and deliberate act by a person over whom D had no control, unless it could be shown that the dangerous thing was left by D in such a condition that it was a reasonable and probable consequence of their action which they ought to have foreseen. This does not apply in the current case.

Jenkins L.J.

  • As the trial judge found, D did all that could reasonably be expected of them to prevent children meddling with the disused motorcoach. The happening which brought about the accident was one which D could not reasonably have been expected to foresee.
  • Accepting the view that this motorcoach was an object to which the Rylands v Fletcher rule applies (a dangerous thing that D was under obligation to prevent the dangerous element escaping), the case still fails. An occupant of land cannot be held liable under the rule if the act bringing about the escape was the act of a stranger.
  • “I see no necessity to confine the exception from the rule in Rylands v Fletcher of acts of strangers to acts which proceed from the conscious volition or the deliberate act of the stranger. It seems to me that the relevance of the exception is that the stranger is regarded as a person over whose acts the occupier of the land has no control. Then the real cause of the escape is not the occupier’s action in having the dangerous thing on his land: nor is it any failure on his part, or on the part of his agents, in keeping the dangerous thing on the land: nor is it due to any latent or patent defect in his protective measures. The real cause is none of these things. The real cause is the act of the stranger, for whose acts the occupier of the land is in no sense responsible, because he cannot control them” [90].