HC Deb 11 July 1975 vol 895 cc978-9

Lords Amendment: No. 8, in page 2, line 31, at end insert—

"(2) The provisions of this Act shall not be construed as—

  1. (a) conferring a right of action in any civil proceedings (other than proceedings for the recovery of a fine or any prescribed fee) in respect of any contravention of this Act or of any of the terms or conditions of a licence granted under section 3 of this Act; or
  2. (b) derogating from any right of action or other remedy (whether civil or criminal) in proceedings instituted otherwise than by virtue of this Act."

Mr. Doig

I beg to move, That the House doth agree with the Lords in the said amendment.

The main purpose of the amendment is to make clear that nothing in the Bill confers a right of action for breach of the requirements of Clause 1. Nor is there to be a remedy for breach of any of the other provisions of the Bill, of the regulation or of the terms or conditions of licences.

Without the amendment, the Bill would almost certainly not confer a right of action in any case. The courts normally grant a remedy for breach of statutory duty only if an Act is specifically designed to protect a defined class of people. This Bill is designed to protect the public at large. However, it is desirable that the wishes of Parliament should be made abundantly clear, and it is the modern custom to declare expressly whether breach of duties imposed by a Bill is actionable in itself.

This is, therefore, a technical amendment similar to one made in Committee on the Safety of Sports Grounds Bill. It would be wrong for this Bill to confer a right of action. The law relating to liability for damage for injury caused to animals was thoroughly reviewed only recently by the Law Commission, as a result of whose report the Animals Act 1971 was passed. That contains a code for liability for damage caused by animals, and it would not be right to interfere piecemeal with that code in the Bill.

Section 5(3)(b) of the Animals Act expressly deals with trespassers who are injured by animals guarding premises. The effect of the amendment, therefore, is that a person injured by a guard dog is granted no additional civil remedy by the Bill but may have remedies under the Animals Act or at common law.

For these reasons, it is best to preserve the status quo as far as possible, declaring that no right of action is conferred by the Bill, except of course for fines or fees. Existing rights remain unaffected as a result of paragraph (b).

Question put and agreed to.

Subsequent Lords amendment agreed to.

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