Contemporary societies are characterized by complex interdependence, with industrial activity increasingly having the potential to cause effects beyond local and national borders. Courts have previously illustrated that liability for injurious action must lie with the individual who created the risk of damage under the common law rule of Rylands v Fletcher. Having fallen out of favour in the twentieth century, this article proposes a re-articulation of the rule to cover situations in modern society in which invasive methods are used in the extraction of volatile fuels from the earth, specifically in the case of ‘fracking’. The article examines recent rulings from the United States and the United Kingdom, as well as precedent from the United Kingdom and Ireland to establish the manner in which the rule of Rylands v Fletcher might be successfully rearticulated in the context of contemporary common law jurisdictions – specifically focusing on Ireland – as a means for redressing environmental damage.
Costello, Roisin Aine, Reviving Rylands: How the Doctrine Could Be Used to Claim Compensation for Environmental Damages Caused by Fracking (September 1, 2014).