Question Rukudrithi Law

If a tree falls on a man in a forest, and no-one is there to see it, who is it possible to sue?

If a tree falls on a man in a forest, and no-one is there to see it, who is it possible to sue?

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Answer Internal Staff

Without making a number of assumptions about this scenario the relevant method of litigation would be near impossible to determine.


Assuming no foul play was involved, the most likely cause of action for the claimant would be pursuing a claim under the tortious doctrine of occupier’s liability.

A second assumption made due to the scenarios’ limited facts is the ‘forest land’ has been conferred as ‘access land’ for public entry under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000.

Relevant Law and Application:

The relevant law to determine who can actually be claimed against in this instance is the Occupiers Liability Act 1984.

The first thing necessary to establish is who the occupier of the land is. The occupier in this instance would be whomever conferred the land for public access. This is the person/legal-person against whom an action can be brought and as such, is the respondent.

In order for a tortious claim to succeed, the occupier/respondent must owe the non-visitor (‘man’ or claimant) a ‘duty of care’.

In this instance as the land has been conferred as ‘access land’, the respondent would not owe a duty to the claimant (s.6A(a), OLA) as risks resulting from natural landscapes (s.6B, OLA) are not included under duties owed to non-visitors (s.2(1), CRWA).

Duties are only owed by occupiers under the OLA (s.6C) in situations concerning ‘access land’, where the risk of danger concerned was intentionally caused or the occupier was reckless in creating said risk.

Assuming however that this was not the case based on the limited facts, there will be no duty and therefore no breach.


Essentially, although a cause of action can be pursued against the occupier, the claim would fail based on the lack of duty owed to the claimant.

The fact no-one saw is irrelevant in terms of duty owed.


Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000.

Occupiers Liability Act 1984