Liabilities on Coastal Margins

Coastal path

The CLA has developed guidance for occupiers' liabilities on coastal margins, with input from Natural England and Defra.

The issue of occupiers' liability was considered in detail as part of the process of granting new access rights for open-air recreation which were set out in the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 (CROW) Act. At the time the new access rights were being considered, landowners and occupiers were justifiably concerned that an increase in access should not lead to a consequent rise in the level of liability owed to those accessing their land and the Government agreed. As a result significant amendments to the Occupiers‟ Liability Act 1984 (OLA 1984) were included within the CROW Act to protect occupiers.

Such issues were considered again when formulating the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 (MCA) Act. The principle of protecting occupiers from an increase in liability was considered to be particularly applicable in coastal areas, for example because of the potential dangers to the public caused by cliffs, coastal defence structures, erosion and old quarrying mine workings which are often extensive. As a result additional amendments, on top of those included in the CROW Act, were added to limit any potential liability on land within the coastal margin.

The guidance below covers what is meant by occupiers' liability; the Occupiers' Liability Act 1957 (OLA 1957) and the OLA 1984; and liability on coastal margins. 

Click here for CLA guidance on liabilities on coastal margins

For further information on this guidance, please contact CLA Legal Adviser Andrew Gillett on 020 7235 0511 or email

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