Read v Lyons [1945] KB 216

Read v Lyons [1945] KB 216 is a Tort Law case, focusing on Rylands v Fletcher rule.


The claimant was employed by the defendant in the factory. The factory was producing explosives for the Ministry of Supply.

During one of the workdays, an explosion happened which killed an employee and injured others including the claimant. There was no real evidence that negligence caused the explosion.


The issue in Read v Lyons was that there was no real evidence that negligence caused the explosion.


At trial, the judge held that the case was governed by the Rylands v Fletcher rule. Subsequently, The Court of Appeal reversed this decision as to the rule in Rylands v Fletcher required an escape of the hazardous matter.

The claimant appealed. As a result, The House of Lords dismissed the appeal. In the absence of any proof of negligence on behalf of the defendant or an escape of dangerous thing, there was no cause of action on which the claimant could succeed.

Liability requires escape that is one of the most artificial elements of the rule. Moreover, the retention of this requirement indicated the fact that the rule is not one of strict liability.

As Viscount Simon puts it in this case, “escape” means, escaping from a place where the D has an occupation of or control over land to place, which is outside his occupation or control.

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