Graham v East of Scotland Water

Case Report: 2002 SCLR 340
Scottish Courts Service decision.

This was an Outer House case in the Court of Session (Lord Emslie).

The facts: In this case a person was drowned in a reservoir at night. It was claimed that the reservoir should have been fenced at a point where the wall adjoining the reservoir was low. There had been no previous accidents or complaints about safety although the road next to the reservoir was heavily used. The person who had drowned lived locally and should have been aware of the lie of the land.

Decision: In line with earlier cases, the court held that there is no duty on the occupier of land to fence off obvious dangers on land. It was noted that the reservoir and wall were man-made, rather than natural features. However, they were well-established, permanent and familiar features of the landscape. There is no duty to fence long-standing artificial features where they are not concealed or unusual. The court commented, however, that an occupier had a duty to fence off any particular, or unfamiliar, hazard on his land, such as industrial machinery.

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