Wheat v E Lacon and Co Ltd: HL 1966

The Appellant’s husband, fell while going down the back stairs of a public house called ‘The Golfer’s Arm’ at Great Yarmouth. He was found lying on the floor of the vestibule at the bottom of the stairs and died later. She appealed against rejection of her claim and appeal.
Held: The word ‘occupier’ has a different meaning according to the subject matter in which it is employed. Lord Pearson used the phrase ‘control associated with and arising from presence in and use of activity in the premises.
There can be more than one occupier of the same premises for the purpose of the 1957 Act.
Lord Denning defined an occupier for the purposes of the Act by examples the second of which was:- ‘Secondly, where an owner let floors or flats in a building to tenants, but did not demise the common staircase or roof or some other parts, he was regarded as having retained control of all parts not demised by him. Accordingly he was held to be under a duty in respect of those retained parts to all persons coming lawfully on to the premises… But the old cases still apply so as to show that the Landlord is responsible for all parts not demised by him, on the ground that he is regarded as being sufficiently in control of them to impose on him a duty of care to all persons coming lawfully on to the premises.’ and ‘the structure was reasonably safe including the handrail and that the system of lighting was efficient, but I doubt whether they were bound to see that the lights were properly switched on or the rugs laid safely on the floor.’
Viscount Dilhorne, Lord Denning, Lord Morris of Borth-y-Gest, Lord Pearce, Lord Pearson
[1966] AC 552, [1966] UKHL 1, [1965] 3 WLR 142
Occupiers Liability Act 1957, Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1934
England and Wales
Cited by:
CitedHarris v Birkenhead Corporation CA 12-Nov-1975
A four year old child had fallen from a second-story window in a derelict house owned by the defendant, and suffered serious injury. The house and others had been purchased by compulsion for intended clearance. The Corporation appealed against a . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.
Updated: 16 October 2021; Ref: scu.242622