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Occupier's Liability - you may be liable for personal injury that occurs on someone else's land

You or your business could be responsible for injuries or damage that occur on premises, whether or not you are the owner of the land or are leasing the land. If you occupy land or you exercise control over land that is adjacent to, but outside the boundary of your property, you may be responsible for ensuring that those premises are kept safe.

What is Occupier's liability?

There is a duty on the occupiers of land to show care towards a person entering the land. The occupier should take enough care that is reasonable to see that the person entering the land will not suffer injury or damage.

What is an 'occupier of premises'?

An occupier of premises refers to anyone that occupies or has control of land.

This could include circumstances where you assume responsibility for areas adjacent to your property, such as, by undertaking maintenance of the land or utilising the land in a certain way. Activities such as gardening or maintaining vegetation, storing vehicles on the land, using the land as an access way, or having signage or advertising displayed, are potential exercises of control that could amount to occupation of the land.

In these circumstances, you may be considered an 'occupier of premises' and as such, occupier's liability could apply to you, regardless of who actually owns the land and whether or not you have any legal interest in the land.

What are the risks? 

As a consequence, if someone were to suffer injury on the land that you occupy or control, even if the land is owned by another party, such as the council or shire, or a neighbouring business, then you could be made to pay compensation or damages in respect of damage suffered.

What should you do? 

Occupiers of land have to exercise a duty of care towards people that enter the land. The exercise of care that must be taken by an occupier is such care that would be reasonable to prevent a person from suffering injury or damage.

The measures that you will be required to take to prevent injury occurring to entrants on the land depends on a number of factors, some of which include:

  1. The likelihood that a person will incur the injury on the premises;
  2. The type of premises;
  3. The age of entrants or potential entrants to the premises;
  4. The ability of entrants to be aware of the danger of injury; and
  5. The burden of eliminating the risk compared to the risk of the danger to the entrant.

If you consider it is foreseeable that a person could suffer injury on the premises you are occupying, and the injury you foresee is a risk that is caused by your occupation of the premises, then you should take care to remove the risk and check your public liability policy with your broker. 

Call and speak to one of our insurance specialists for any specific concerns you may have.