31 January, 2017
Asif Ahmed v Leon McClean 2016 EWHC 2798 QB
In this tragic case, the claimant was left paraplegic after falling during a mountain bike tuition course run by the defendant.
The claimant took part in a beginners' mountain bike tuition course. The website described that the beginners' skills course was,
"…ideal for the complete novice or those wishing to progress their riding. Our aims are to enable the participant, to ride more technically demanding terrain in a safer/controlled manner."
Unfortunately, whilst the claimant was cycling down a slope he went over the top of the handlebars, and suffered extremely serious personal injuries. The claimant alleged that his personal injuries were caused by the negligence and/or breach of contract of the defendant, by having failed to take reasonable care of his safety on the course.
The Judge agreed that the defendant was at least in part liable to the claimant for this accident, in that the accident was caused by his failure to carry out his tuition with reasonable skill and care, so as to enable the claimant to ride down the slope safely.
In summary, he found;
On this issue of contributory negligence, the defendant contended that the claimant was also to blame for not indicating that he considered that it was beyond his capacity to ride down the slope safely. The Judge appreciated that the claimant was a novice, but this did not abdicate him completely from responsibility for his own safety. Noting that the claimant ought to have had some appreciation of his own ability to ride down the slope in question. A deduction of 20% was therefore made in respect of contributory negligence.
The Judge indicated that he would have awarded a greater deduction but for the false reassurance that the defendant had provided to the claim. Following the first descent of the slope the defendant informed the claimant that his technique was ok, and furthermore he also advised that on his next descent that he should ride down the slope at greater speed. The Judge accepted that these two matters would have been likely to have provided a measure of false reassurance to the claimant as to his ability to ride down the slope again in safety.
This is an interesting case which provides an insight into the duty of care between instructors and students participating in dangerous sports. Whilst cases such as this turn on the facts, this case provided some guidance: