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.

Cambridge Water Co v Eastern Counties Leather plc [1994] 2 AC 264

flood, water, repair, basement

Cambridge Water Co v Eastern Counties Leather plc [1994] 2 AC 264 is a Tort Law case focusing on nuisance and the Rylands v Fletcher rule.


The defendant was the owner of a leather tanning business. It spilt small quantities of solvents to the nearby area where the claimant’s water company operated and supplied local residents with water. Consequently, the water got contaminated and the claimant brought actions based on negligence, nuisance and the rule in Rylands v Fletcher


The issue in Cambridge Water Co v Eastern Counties Leather plc [1994] 2 AC 264 was whether the rules for the remoteness of damage and foreseeability of the type of damage caused is implemented to cases where the rule of Rylands v Fletcher and nuisance are in the same way, they do for negligence cases. 


It was held that the harm of the relevant type by the defendant must be foreseeable to recover damages. This rule applies both in nuisance and under the rule in Rylands as well. Accordingly, and not withstanding that the storage of the solvent constituted a non-natural use of D’s land.

Since P could not establish that the pollution which occurred was in the circumstances foreseeable, the action failed. Therefore, the Defendants were not liable for the damage in Cambridge Water Co v Eastern Counties Leather plc.


Rylands v Fletcher 


(1868) LR 3 HL 330, [1868] UKHL 1

Read our notes and other cases on Nuisance for more information.