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17 LawNow 9 (1992-1993)
Watch Your Step: Occupier's Liability in Alberta

handle is hein.journals/lanow17 and id is 215 raw text is: 

Occupier's liability  i

                 in Alberta               W      atch             your step!

           WAYNE M. SCHAFER

In this day and age of publicized law-
    suits relating to injuries suffered by
    visitors to events and activities, own-
ers and occupiers of premises are often
concerned with regard to their obligations,
responsibilities, and possible legal expo-
   Likewise, individuals injured on
premises other than their own are increas-
ingly concerned about their rights and
potential recovery of compensation for
damages from the owner/occupier of such

The Occupier's Liability Act
   In Alberta, the Occupier's Liabilign
Act, R.S.A. 1980, says that the owner or
occupier (which may be more than one
person) of property owes a duty to all visi'-
tors to ensure that they will be reasonably
safe in using the premises for the
purpose(s) for which they were invited,
or permitted, to be there.
   Therefore, under the Act, an owner/
occupier has a duty to take as much care
as, in the circumstances, is reasonable to
ensure that persons will be reasonably safe
in using the premises. The owner/occupi-
er's duty of care, or obligation, applies in
relation to the condition of the premises,
the activities carried out on the premises,
and the conduct of individuals on the
premises. There is, however, no duty owed
by an owner/occupier for risks willingly
accepted by the visitor.
   In Alberta, the duty owed is to per-
sons having a right to be on the premises.
An occupier does not owe a duty of care
to a trespasser. An exception to this rule
occurs when the injuries to a trespasser
result from the owner/occupier's reckless
or wilful conduct. A second exception
occurs when the occupier knows, or has
reason to know, that a child trespasser is,
or will be, on the property and that the
premises are potentially dangerous for a

Liability to child trespassers
   With regard to a child trespasser, the
courts have held that an occupier owes a
duty to a child to take such care as in the
circumstances of the case is reasonable to
see that the child will be reasonably safe
from a known danger. In determining
whether the duty of care has been met,
the court will consider the age of the child,
the ability of the child to appreciate the
danger, and the burden on the occupier of
eliminating the danger, or protecting the
child from the danger, compared to the
risk to the child.
   By way of illustration is an example
from Manitoba where a contractor set fire
to some rubbish on land on which he was
building a house. Before leaving the work
site, he spread out the embers and satis-
fied himself that the fire was out. Shortly
after the contractor had left, two young
boys came onto the land and approached
the re-ignited fire. As the boys ap-

proached, a spark landed on one of the
young boys igniting his clothing and caus-
ing some burns.
   The court held that despite the plain-
tiff's young age, he was still a trespasser
who went on the contractor's land with-
out permission and at his own risk. As the
contractor was not aware of any potential
problem with the work site when he left it
and as he was not aware, nor could he
foresee, that the young boy would be com-
ing to the work site, the contractor was
not negligent.

What are premises?
   Being aware of one's duty as an
owner/occupier raises a question about
what is considered as premises. The courts
have defined premises to include not only
buildings and property, but also such
things as staging; scaffolding (and simi-
lar structures erected on land) poles; stand-
ards; pylons and wires used for the

May 1993 Law Now 9

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