Liability of State – Law of Torts – Notes

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The liability of state differs from that of individuals. A state is immune from torts committed by itself or its agents while performing sovereign functions. However, if the state was not discharging its sovereign function but discharging obligations such as welfare obligations then it will be liable for its actions. State immunity is confined to acts of state. [Secretary of State v. Hari Bhanji, (1882) ILR 5 Mad. 273]

Allen v Gulf Oil Refinery ([1981] AC 1001) – The claimant brought an action in nuisance for the smell, noise and vibration created by an oil refinery which had been constructed by the defendant on their land. The defendant’s action in constructing the oil refinery was authorised by an Act of Parliament. The defendant was not held liable as it had a defence of statutory authority.

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