Wheat v E Lacon & Co Ltd [1966] 1 All ER 582 a decision of the House of Lords concerning occupiers' liability.


The Ls were brewers who owned a brewery which had been entrusted to the brewery's manager, who lived in the brewery with his wife. The first floor of the brewery was occupied by the claimant who is a friend of the defendant manager and is staying as a paying guest. One night the claimant upon reaching the stairs to go down to get a drink he realised that the lightbulb had been removed, however, desperate as he was he attempted to brave it out, only to fall and realise that the handrail was shorter than normal handrails. The claimant's husband died from the injuries and sued both L and the manager.


The House of Lords found that both L and the manger are occupiers, however both of them were not in breach of their duty as occupiers, because it would be unreasonable to impose a duty upon the occupiers to ensure light and tha no one ever steals light bulbs.

According to Lord Denning occupier status rested on two characteristics:

  1. Sufficient degree of control over premise;
  2. Any failure on his part could lead to injury to another legal entrent.

The occupier need not have exclusive control, some degree of control will suffice, hence there may be more than one occupier.