What is the scienter rule in Tort law?

In all cases of tort, whether the defendant is negligent or intentional, his liability is guaranteed; It is called absolute liability. But i...

Scienter rule

In all cases of tort, whether the defendant is negligent or intentional, his liability is guaranteed; It is called absolute liability. But in many cases, the defendant has to consider his intentions, negligence, etc. to be held responsible, including the ‘Scientist rule’.

I will discuss the ‘Scientist rule’ with examples in the bellow.

What is the scienter rule in Tort law?

An animal keeper is strictly liable for damage caused by his dangerous species of animals. For example, lions, bears, elephants, wolves, monkeys, etc.

Conversely, if a particular pet has a tendency to bite or attack humans, and if the owner is aware of it, then the owner can be blamed. This rule is called 'Scienter rule'. For example, the animals included in this category are dogs, horses, cows, sheep, cats, etc.

There is no need to prove whether concerned the animal has done such damage before. The only thing to consider is whether the defendant knew such a tendency of the animal. So if the dog of 'A' bites ‘B’, then‘B’ has to prove that 'A' was aware of the dog's attacking humans.


‘A’ binds a lion with an iron chain. The chain breaks even though there is no negligence of ‘A’ and the lion attacks ‘B’ when he came to see ‘A’.

In this case, the lion is a wild and ferocious animal. If someone keeps such an animal at home and harms someone, his liability is absolute according to the Rylands v. Fletcher rule. In this case, even if he has no negligence, he has to be responsible. Exceptions to these obligations do not include due diligence. Therefore, ‘A’ will be responsible for hitting a legitimate visitor even if proper precautions are taken.


'B' came to A's house wearing a black shirt and A's cow attacked and injured 'B'.  Earlier, A's cows attacked visitors in black shirts, which ‘A’ knew.

In this case, cows are usually calm and domesticated animals. So the owner's responsibility for the cow is not absolute or certain. However, since the cow of ‘A’ is seen a tendency to attack the people wearing a black shirt and the owner was aware of it. So ‘A’ will be responsible according to the ‘Scienter rule'. However, in such a situation, if ‘B’ fails to take as much precaution as a common-sense person tries to protect himself, ‘A’ can be exempted from liability.

Above all, the Rylands vs. Fletcher rule applies to wildlife or wildlife, but the ‘Sainter’ rule applies to domesticated animals.



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Money Gelt - Law news, insights and free legal advice!: What is the scienter rule in Tort law?
What is the scienter rule in Tort law?
Money Gelt - Law news, insights and free legal advice!
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