chapter  12
12 Pages


Civil liability for damage caused by animals has its origins in the feudal tradition and in pre-enclosure days when in many areas the main form of wealth was livestock and attitudes to straying animals were very different to those which pertain today. Indeed, it was not until after the much overdue rationalisation and reform of the law concerning animals in the Animals Act 1971 that the law recognised that the safety of drivers of vehicles on the highway should take priority over the rights of landowners to leave their property unfenced. In Searle v Wallbank [1947] AC 341, among the earliest precedents ever cited in English law, was accepted as supporting that view, but that very early case was now largely overruled by s 8 of the Animals Act 1971.