News Release Archive

The Occupiers Liability Act was introduced in the Legislature
today by Justice Minister Bill Gillis today.

It is designed to clarify the liability an occupier of land owes
to others, and brings Nova Scotia's legislation in line with
several other jurisdictions in Canada. The act outlines more
clearly the rights and responsibilities of both occupiers of land
and visitors.

The legislation is necessary because of the difficulties
encountered with this area of common law, and the complications
that have arisen over the centuries. As a result, it has become
increasingly difficult for landowners to predict what their
liability would be to different users of land, the minister said.

The act more clearly defines the occupier to include a person who
is in physical possession of the premises, or one who has the
responsibility for, and control over, the condition of the
premises. This would include activities conducted on the
premises, and those allowed on the premises.

It recognizes there may be cases where more than one "occupier"
is responsible for the premises. For example, in places such as
shopping malls, apartment buildings, and areas where an
independent contractor may be working -- more than one "occupier"
would be responsible for the condition of, and the activity on,
the premises.

Under the act, the duty of the occupier of land is to take
reasonable care to see that those entering the premises and
property are reasonably safe while there. (The standard of 
"reasonable care" is a familiar concept from the general law of

The act also lists factors that are to be considered by the
courts when determining reasonable care: for instance, the age of
the person, the ability of the person to appreciate danger, or
the circumstances of entry into the premises.

As well, the duty to take reasonable care does not apply to those
who willingly accept the risks of entry. A lower standard applies
in these cases; meaning the occupier must not create a danger
with the deliberate intent of doing harm to an individual, or act
with reckless disregard to the presence of that individual. This
is designed to encourage landowners to make their land available
to such people as hikers and skiers by reducing their liability
for negligence.

The act also specifies a number of types of land and premises
where this lower standard of care will apply. This includes land
used primarily for agricultural or forestry purposes, wilderness
land, or recreation facilities closed for the season. This
section is designed to deal with cases where such things as size
and remoteness of the land make it difficult for the occupier to
exercise complete control. It also recognizes situations where
the occupier may be unaware of the dangers that might exist.

The act also clarifies liability in rental situations. Currently,
a visitor to a rental property must sue the tenant they are
visiting, who in turn sues the landlord. Since the landlord is
responsible for the condition of the premises, as outlined in the
Residential Tenancies Act, this section allows the injured
visitor to sue the responsible landlord, and avoids the
circuitous route which previously existed.

"There has been a great deal of consultation regarding this
legislation," said Dr. Gillis. "We have worked closely with the
Land Resource Coordinating Council of Voluntary Planning, which
represents both landowners and users, and they have expressed
their strong  support for this legislation."


Contact: Michele McKinnon  902-424-6811

trp                Apr. 12, 1996 - 11:25 a.m.