Occupiers’ Liability Legislation Forum 5: Occupiers Liability Act

Occupiers’ Liability Legislation, (Longchamps & Wright, 2007, p.108-110)

What or who is an Occupier?

It is any person (or group of persons) who has control over (such as determining who can may enter)  or has possession of,  or responsibility for a premises. And a premises can mean planes, trains and automobiles, boats, property, buildings, (for example: a hotel or a restaurant).

A reasonable duty of care is owed by the Occupier to the persons' who enter the 'premises' and he must pay very particular attention to certain groups or classes of people --the the young, the elderly and the physically and mentally challenged. The Occupier must protect all persons from dangers that may develop in and around the 'premises' or he may be found liable under negligence per se# (also see Glossary). This 'meeting government regulatory requirements', particularly with the class of invitees# just mentioned, may not be enough to protect the occupier from liability.

There are three distinct types of persons in Occupiers' Liability legislation that are mentioned in English common law, but today the differences a blurred between the first two.

The traditional three are:
  1. invitees,
  2. licensees
  3. trespassers. (see Glossary)

British Columbia#, among many other provinces, now provides legislation that does not distinguish between an invitee and a licensee. Particularly in the hotel industry, it is so difficult to distinguish between the two.

MAKE SPECIAL NOTE  that “the standard of care owed to trespassers has risen in modern times. Under common law, an occupier owes trespassers a duty:

1. not to willfully create a danger or wantonly injure the trespasser.” (Longchamps & Wright, 2007, p.111).

So, occupiers cannot set traps that will injure trespassers to deter them. Trespassers must be treated with common humanity.

The textbook (Longchamps & Wright, 2007, p.109) offers specific details regarding the duty owed by occupiers to invitees.

"The occupier has a duty to invitees to inspect the premises for dangerous conditions and to exercise reasonable care to prevent damage arising from them. The occupier is also liable to an invitee for any damages from unusual dangers that the occupier knew or ought to have know about. Under common law, an occupier owes invitees a duty
  1. not to willfully create a danger or wantonly injure the invitee;
  2. to remove or warn the invitee of existing or unusual dangers that the occupier is aware of;
  3. to remove or warn the invitee of existing or unusual dangers that the occupier ought to have been aware of."

It is important for all occupiers to make note of  these legal obligations.

  1. In the case “B. v. T. & C. Inn Ltd. [1996], what is the distinction established between “unusual” and “unexpected”? Explain how the distinction had a bearing on the outcome of this case.


The wording of the question is a little unclear to me. I am going to assume you mean, 'what is the distinction between (unusual and unexpected) circumstances and the (usual and expected) circumstances.

The example used in the text demonstrates that snow in Canada in winter is a usual and expected happening which the plaintiff should know about and taken appropriate cautionary steps. The defendant had "exercised reasonable care" to attend to the snow problem.

However, If the entrance way had a lose step (not noticed on entrance by plaintiff) to the lounge and the defendant should have know about it, he owes a duty to the invitee to fixed it or at the very least warn invitees of the danger until he can fix it. Thus, to answer the question The fall of the plaintiff would have happened under 'unusual and unexpected' circumstances - a lose step, as opposed to the 'usual and expected' Canadian winter conditions. The court may have been decided in favour of the plaintiff in this case.

  1. Note the paragraph on “Veinot v. Kerr-Addison Mines Ltd. [1975], page 112. Note that 3) says “if their premises have features that may allure children”.

    See page 138 of the text (Chapter 5) now, and read the section on Special Consideration: Children, and the case of Vannan v. Kamloops (City) [1991] and the outcome regarding children.

    If you live in Kamloops, you might notice that the outcome of this case has led to the removal of some playground equipment.The document Volunteers and the Law also touches on this topic.

    The “Prevention Checklists for Volunteers” in that document touches regularly on the subject of children. See pages 22 to 24, “Caring for Children” for a full explanation, but particularly page 24 “Attracting children towards danger” for further examples.


Longchamps, D.,  & Wright, B. H., (2007) Canadian Hospitality Law: Liabilities and Risk    (3rd Ed.), Toronto, On.:Nelson Education Ltd.