02 September, 2014
As reported earlier in the month, in a bumper week Forbes Solicitors successfully defended six claims at trial and negotiated the Discontinuance of six additional cases against various clients.
These cases covered a wide variety of legal areas - Occupiers Liability, Employers Liability, Public Liability, Highways and causation only matters.
Here is a quick round up of some of the cases from that week:
Stanford v Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council
In this case, the Claimant tripped over a defect in the road. The defect had been identified by an inspector during a highway inspection prior to the index accident. The defect was ordered for repair within 15 days. The repairs were carried out within the appropriate time scale. The Defendant submitted that it had taken such care as in all the circumstances was reasonably required. There was a system in place for inspection which was properly carried out. The defect was noted for repair and the accident regrettably occurred within the repair period.
The Claimant contended that the inspector should have used his discretion to upgrade the category of repair for the defect. The Judge stated "If I were to find that a Defendant should have used their discretion, I would be reversing the effect of Mills v Barnsley. This would be an unreasonable burden on the Defendant." In deciding whether the Local Authority had acted reasonably, the judge found that it was clear that the policy had been applied. The defect was noted and reported for repair with a 15 day time limit. The Defendant's policy was in accordance with the national guidelines and it was not incorrectly classified as 15 day repair. In view of the financial restraints on local authorities the Judge found that it was unjust to impose such an unreasonable burden to upgrade the repair criteria. The claim was dismissed and the Defendant awarded its costs.
Gregory v Bolton Council
In this case, the Claimant alleged he was thrown off his bike when his wheel went into a gully, the cover of which was missing. The road was subjected to an annual highway inspection. The Claimant contended that a more frequent inspection was required because of the prevalence of vandalism. The Judge was emphatic that the figures did not bear that out. She stated that 250 stolen gully covers in the whole of Bolton struck her as a small number, not a prevalence of stolen gully tops. Only 2% of claims for the year in question related to gully covers. The Judge stated that it seemed to her that the Defendant had taken such care as was reasonable and is in fact envisaged by the Code of Practice. She said "Having regard to the number of gully covers stolen in the scheme of things it does not seem anywhere near a big enough concern that there should be additional inspections when one takes into account the limited resources."
Garbett v Wigan Council
In this case, it was alleged that the Claimant had attended a Council owned swimming pool and had sustained an injury to his little toe when he struck a raised lane anchor point by the pool side causing him injury. It was the Claimant's case that the lane rope/anchor point in its location, without any appropriate warning, represented a hazard in a place where pedestrians are almost invariably in bare feet or flip flops. The Claimant said the presence of the anchor points should have been warned and highlighted, as it represented a danger and foreseeable risk of injury to the Claimant.
The Defendant maintained that it was not in breach of the Occupiers' Liability Act 1957 and that the anchor points did not constitute a hazard, a danger or a trap and that they complied with British Safety Standards.
In evidence, whilst initially maintaining that he was looking where he was going because his wife and children were located in the pool, the Claimant did eventually concede he was not looking at the floor.
The Judge found that the location of the anchor points at the edge of the pool, the bright orange ropes and the sign positioned in close proximity to the anchor point did not represent a risk, a hazard or a trap that was unreasonable or inappropriate in all the circumstances of the case. He stated that there was nothing, in his view, inherently dangerous or that constituted a trap in the configurement of the bright shiny anchor point with bright rope.
In the circumstances and having regard to the fact the Claimant admitted that he was not looking where he was going, the Judge was completely satisfied that the Claimant was the author of his own misfortune. The claim was dismissed and the Defendant awarded its costs.
Hughes v Wigan Council
The Claimant alleged that in 2010 she had tripped and fallen in a hole on the pavement. At the time of the alleged accident, works were being carried out on the pavement by the Local Authority. The work involved the resurfacing of the pavements and at the time of the Claimant's alleged accident the top layer of tarmac had not been laid. The Defendant contended that the area had been left in a safe condition.
At trial, the Claimant was unable to satisfy the Judge that she had fallen in the alleged defect. The evidence was that the Claimant had fallen in that area and in the vicinity of the alleged defect. There was no direct evidence that she had fallen in the hole. The Judge found that on the balance of probabilities the Claimant had not discharged the burden of proof and therefore the claim must fail. However, he did state that had he gone further he would have found that the Defendant had not left the area in a dangerous state.
The claim was dismissed and the Defendant was awarded its costs.