Betting Company Not Liable to Compensate Employee Injured in Robbery

The Court of Appeal has held that the Ladbrokes betting company had not breached its statutory duties owed to employees by failing to prevent a robbery from occurring at the Claimant’s place of work.

The Claimant worked at a betting shop which was considered to be in an area with a low crime rate and consequently low risk of being subjected to a robbery.  However, the shop was raided by armed robbers who pointed a gun at the Claimant and demanded that she open the safe.  She suffered a psychiatric reaction as a result of the terrifying episode and issued a personal injury action blaming her employer.

Amongst other arguments, the Claimant alleged that her employer had failed to keep her as safe as reasonably practicable by failing to carry out a proper assessment of the risk to her safety, failing to insist on the use of a magnetic front door lock to prevent access, and failing to install suitable lighting for staff members to identify persons entering the shop.  The first instance Judge accepted the Claimant’s submissions and held that Ladbrokes had failed to assess the risk properly or at all and had no coherent policy on the use of the magnetic lock, including whether it should be used throughout the day, after hours or at all.  He concluded that the robbery would probably not have occurred had these measures been in place and the Claimant was awarded damages.

Ladbrokes appealed and the majority Court of Appeal found in its favour.  The Court held that there was no evidence to suggest that the particular shop in question was at any enhanced risk of being subject to a robbery, and the fact that a magnetic door lock was fitted in this particular shop did not mean that Ladbrokes should insist on its use at particular times of day.  The Court accepted that the magnetic lock was fitted as an additional measure to safeguard employees when opening or closing the shop, as there was an increased risk at that time due to staff moving away from the secure areas when the shop was potentially open to customers.  They stated that it was one thing to insist on its use at those times, but another to suggest that the lock should be used for the altogether different purpose of vetting customers entering the shop. Furthermore, the risk of robbery was not confined to evening hours and insisting on the lock’s use to prevent robberies would require the door to be locked all day long, with staff responsible for allowing entry. They concluded that the possibility of a robbery combined with the installation of a magnetic lock was not sufficient to impose a duty on Ladbrokes to insist on the lock’s use throughout the day, and it was reasonable for them to leave the door policy to the discretion of managers.

This case demonstrates the difficulties faced by Claimants in obtaining compensation when they have been injured whilst carrying out moderate to high-risk work.  Arguably, the higher the risk of harm to the employee the greater the duty imposed upon the employer to protect them should be, but the courts have consistently shown that they will not impose an unreasonable burden upon employers, particularly where staff are aware of the risks or where the additional measures expected may conflict with the efficient operation of the business.

If you have  sustained injury in any incident call David Mayor or any of our Personal Injury Solicitors for a free consultation on freephone 0800 975 2463, or contact us by email for free expert legal advice.

David Mayor

About David Mayor

David is Head of the Preston Office's Civil Litigation team and deals with all types of private Civil Court disputes. David’s blogs cover his expertise in all aspects of personal injury law from low value Road Traffic Accidents right through to complex large loss claims. David also writes and has a vast array of experience in Public Liability (trips and slips), Employer's Liability (accidents at work), and Motor Claims (motor vehicle accidents, pedestrian accidents).
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