06 February, 2020
F v Anon Football Club
A Claimant has had his claim dismissed after failing to prove the cause of his fall.
In January 2018 at approximately 6pm, the Claimant arrived at the football club to attend a board meeting. The Claimant being a director of the club, was a regular visitor to the premises. As he was crossing a 'dancefloor' type area situated in the function room, he slipped and fell and sustained an injury to his left hip.
The case was pleaded under the provisions of the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 and Occupiers Liability Act 1957. The Claimant's case was that the floor was wet but could not say exactly why. He claimed that there was a milky grey/white residue on his coat after the fall.
The dance floor had been polished on the morning of the incident by the Defendant's witness "A". In evidence, A explained that he had then left the heating on all day, as he was conscious that there was a board meeting in the evening and the club was known to become cold. CCTV evidence showed A carrying out a thorough job of polishing the floor, as well as another Director crossing the dancefloor with no issues.
The trial judge found for the Defendant on the basis that there was no evidence of what had caused the accident. It was noted that there had been no previous issues; A's regular cleaning practices had caused no mishaps in the past and his conduct had been entirely reasonable. As a result, the Claimant failed at the first hurdle, as he was not able to prove the cause of his fall.
The burden was on the Claimant to prove the cause of the accident. The Claimant was unable to establish what exactly had caused the fall and therefore the claim was doomed to fail at the first hurdle. Without establishing what had caused the fall, the Court could not consider whether there had been any negligence on the part of the defendant. An accident is not proof that someone else is at fault or has acted negligently.
Taking early steps to retain CCTV footage and any other evidence can be of paramount importance in successfully defeating such claims. In this case, the CCTV evidence was invaluable as it showed others walking over the dancefloor area without issue. This is a case which highlights the importance of obtaining and preserving such evidence at the earliest opportunity.