Structures Adjoining Highways

The owners of structures adjoining highways have a duty to maintain them properly so that there is no damage to the users of highways. Thus, if a person is not maintaining his building properly, he would be liable by the fall of the wall adjoining highway [Kallulal v Hemchand AIR 1958 M.P.48].

In Municipal Corpn., Delhi v Subhagwanti (AIR 1966 SC 1750), the defendants were held liable for the death of a number of persons by the fall of the Clock Tower which was situated in the heart of the city. If the owner has maintained the structure with a due care and he does not know about the dangerous condition of the structure and the same cannot be discovered inspite of reasonable inspection on his part, he will not be liable if the structure raps without any fault on his part.

In Noble v Harrison (1926)2 KB 332, the branch of a huge tree, which was growing on the defendant’s land and overhanging on the highway suddenly broke off due to some latent defect and fell on the plaintiff’s vehicle’ passing along the highway, it was held that the defendant was not liable.

In Milder v Associated Portland Cement Mfrs. Ltd. (1961) 3 All ER 709, the defendants were owners and occupiers of premises including a grassland called Green, one side of which adjoin a busy highway. Children up to 10 or 11 years were permitted to play on the Green and the defendants knew that they regularly played there with a football which often went over the wall which separated the Green from the highway and had to be retrieved from the highway. Once the football went over the wall on the highway and injured a motorcyclist. Held that defendants were liable as they ought to have realised that children playing in this manner constituted a risk to the persons using the highway.

Liability of Landlord

When a tenant is in charge of a building and its dangerous condition causes the damage to a visitor the tenant is liable for the same. In certain cases, the liability may also be cast upon the landlord even though it is the tenant and not the landlord who is the occupier of the building. The landlord is liable when he has undertaken a duty to repair the same whenever necessary and has expressly or impliedly reserved the right to enter the premises.