From Exodus to the Animals Act 1971: horses, cattle and dogs
If an ox gore a man or a woman, that they die: then the ox shall be surely stoned, and his flesh shall not be eaten; but the owner of the ox shall be quit. … But if the ox were wont to push with his horn in time past, and it hath been testified to his owner, and he hath not kept him in, but that he hath killed a man or a woman; the ox shall be stoned, and his owner also shall be put to death.
(Exodus c. 21: v 28 – 29: “Divers laws and ordinances”)
The general principles governing the liability of animal and pet owners for personal injury caused by their charges are now largely to be found in statutory, rather than scriptural, form. The Animals Act 1971 (commencement 1 October 1971) sought to rationalise the piecemeal and archaic common law rules that had previously controlled this area of the private law. However, while the law is now, essentially, statute-based, elements of the old common law rules survive in certain key respects. For example, a variety of tortious remedies remain available to Claimants in spite of the legislative framework: trespass to the person and “ordinary” common law negligence survived 1971. In addition, albeit outside the scope of this presentation, the modern law of strict liability for animals belonging “to a dangerous species”, contained in the 1971 Act, itself draws heavily upon concepts known to the law before the introduction of the legislation.
This Briefing accompanies a webinar earlier this week from Matthew Chapman QC and Thomas Yarrow. If you missed it, you can view it here.
Read the Briefing in full here – Personal Injury Briefing 2021