23 August, 2018
James Lewis -v- Burry Port AFC
The claimant was playing in a junior football match for the defendant. During the course of the game the claimant made a sliding tackle and suffered a laceration to his leg. It transpired that there was glass embedded in the surface of the pitch.
The claimant alleged that the defendant was negligent and/or in breach of its duty as occupier to provide a safe pitch. The focus at the trial was whether a reasonable inspection of the pitch had been carried out prior to the match.
The defendant contended that a reasonable inspection of the pitch was performed prior to kick off and that following the accident only a close fingertip inspection of the incident scene revealed the presence of two small shards of glass.
Having heard all of the evidence the Judge determined that a reasonable inspection had been carried out by the defendant. He was satisfied that there had only been two small shards (or slithers) of glass in the vicinity of the pitch where the injury was suffered and that due to the size of the glass, the length of the grass and the dimensions of the pitch it was unremarkable that the glass had not been detected during the inspection. He was satisfied that the inspection had been conducted appropriately and the circumstances were such that the glass could not have been detected by reasonable means.
The case was dismissed.
This is a welcome decision; the Judge accepted that the pre-match walked inspection of the pitch lasting 15-20 minutes was sufficient to discharge the duty to take reasonable steps under the Occupiers Act. Junior football is an activity enjoyed up and down the country and as such it is important that unrealistic standards are not expected. We are delighted that the Judge took a common sense approach in this instance.