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Formerly, it was said “…every dog is entitled to one bite.”

This was a reference to the then necessity, in holding a dog owner responsible for damage done by the dog, to show the owner knew of the dog’s propensity to bite or cause damage. If the dog had bitten someone else before, the owner now knew and would be liable for the second biting or attack etd.

Since the introduction of the Control of Dogs Act 1986, this is no longer the law.

Under Section 21 of the Act, a dog owner is liable for any damage caused by the dog, without the need to prove knowledge, on the part of the owner, of the dog’s propensity to bite.

It would be a wise thing to take out insurance to cover the risk. There is no way of managing the exposure to the risk; the exposure could be very large.

If a dog owner is sued, or threatened with proceedings, in the absence of specific insurance cover for damage caused by the dog, it would be wise of him/her to have the home insurance policy checked to see if such a claim is covered by the policy.


  1. this brings back memories of my Legal Systems tutorials with Paul Anthony McDermott (yes, that one).

    While the subject matter was ruff, the passion for the law that Paul Anthony showed, and his entertaining tutorial style made sure us poor students didn’t wind up barking as we studied the ins and outs of canine stewardship.

  2. Thanks for your help on previous case. Have sent some clients your way and have listed you on our blog.