Woodward v Calderdale MBC

News

01 July, 2015

Halifax County Court - DDJ Mahmood

Forbes has successfully defended a claim for property damage at trial, after a cherry tree fell without warning on to the Claimant's Ford Transit van. The Claimant had parked his vehicle on the road side, when a tree measuring some 15-20 feet, fell on to the bonnet of his vehicle. The damage was substantial but nobody was hurt.

The Claimant alleged that the defendant had failed to maintain, treat or remove the tree and had allowed the tree to fall on to the Claimant's vehicle. The Defendant denied all of the allegations, providing robust evidence of the inspection regime. The tree in question was inspected every 4 years in line with the Defendant's Tree Inspection Strategy. The last inspection was carried out just 5 months prior to the unfortunate incident. During the inspection the tree was deemed to be in a healthy condition and not in need of attention.

The Claimant sought to undermine the Defendant's system of inspection and although it was clear the Court had a great deal of sympathy for the "innocent" Claimant, the Judge dismissed the claim. In the Judge's own words it came "down to the cardinal issue - what evidence manifested itself on inspection of decay in the tree?" The inspections confirmed that when the tree was inspected there was no sign of decay. The case was dismissed.

Forbes comment

This case highlights the importance of having in place and implementing a tree inspection strategy. The defendant was able to rely on the previous inspections as evidence that it had discharged its duty. The Defendant had not created the defect and had no knowledge of its existence and as a consequence the Judge had no choice but to dismiss the claim.

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