No Spillage, No Claim

Article

01 May, 2015

Cheryl Wozny v ASDA Stores Ltd

Manchester County Court - Recorder Elleray QC

10 April 2015

Forbes has successfully defended a claim on behalf of ASDA Stores Ltd. The Claimant alleged that whilst shopping one morning at her local store she slipped in a crossing aisle sustaining an injury to her knee. It was alleged the floor was shiny and had just been cleaned.

The claim was brought pursuant to s.2(2) OLA 1957. It was claimed that ASDA failed to take such care as was reasonable to ensure that she was reasonably safe. The leading appeal case in relation to slips on supermarket floors is Ward v Tesco Stores Ltd (1976) 1 All ER 219. In that case, the Claimant had slipped on a carton of yoghurt. LJ Lawton observed that:

"The accident was such as in the ordinary course of things does not happen if floors are kept clean and spillages are dealt with as soon as they occur. If an accident does happen because the floors are covered with spillage…….some explanation should be forthcoming from the defendants to show that the accident did not arise from any want of care on their part; and in the absence of any explanation the judge may give judgment for the plaintiff."

However, in this case, whilst there was no doubt the Claimant had fallen (evidenced by CCTV) this was not a spillage case. None of the witnesses recalled seeing a spillage on the floor which could have caused the accident. Whilst the other witnesses agreed that the floor was shiny, that did not mean that there was anything wrong with the floor. Furthermore, the other witnesses did not recall saying that the floor had just been cleaned.

In the absence of any water spillage, water presence or any other substance present on the floor, the Judge dismissed the claim.

Forbes comment

The duty of the shopkeeper is to use reasonable care to see that the shop floor is kept reasonably safe. It is for the Claimant to prove her case. In this instance, there was no evidence that the defendant had caused or contributed to the accident either by act or omission therefore the claim was bound to fail.

For further information or advice please contact Nigel McCloy on 0113 244 6688 or email Nigel McCloy.

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