29 May, 2020
S -v- Anon Ski & Snowboard Centre
A Claimant who brought a claim for personal injury after falling and injuring his knee on a dry ski slope has lost his claim at trial and had his application for permission to appeal the judgment refused.
The Claimant alleged that he had entered the dry ski slope from the ski lift. As he went to ski down the slope, he fell forwards onto the honeycomb matting surface and sustained a laceration injury to his knee.
The Defendant denied liability and argued that the slope was reasonably safe for visitors. The slope was inspected twice daily and the Defendant had not received any other complaints or reports of similar accidents. The slope had also been inspected immediately post-accident with no hazards found.
At trial, the Claimant indicated that it did not hold the Defendant at fault for him having fallen on the slope, only for causing the laceration injury. The Judge considered the Claimant's evidence and noted that there was no evidence of anything protruding from the surface of the slope. The Judge accepted that after the accident, one of the witnesses had carried out a thorough and careful check of the slope and was unable to find any issue with the matting. That left the question of whether the design or construction of the slope was negligent. The Judge held that there was no evidence of any other similar injuries, no evidence of negligent design, and no evidence of a negligent system of inspection or maintenance.
In conclusion, the Judge resolved that skiing, including on a dry ski slope was a hazardous activity and dismissed the claim.
The Claimant's application for permission to appeal tried to challenge the trial judge's findings as to which evidence he preferred in making his findings. The appeal judge dismissed the application on the basis that the appeal had no real prospects of success.
Skiing and snowboarding are hazardous activities and those that engage in such activities must accept that they might get injured. However, it does not prevent them from bringing a claim for personal injury if they can establish that the occupier of the premises acted negligently. Occupiers owe a duty of care to ensure the reasonable safety of those using their premises. What may be considered reasonable is a matter of interpretation based upon the individual facts, which is why it is important to secure advice from a specialist lawyer as soon as possible after the incident.