Ministry of Defence v Charles Peter Timothy Radclyffe (2009)


08 July, 2009

The Ministry of Defence appealed against a decision that it was liable for the negligence of an army captain which resulted in a soldier suffering personal injury when he was allowed to jump into the lake from a bridge.

The height of the jump was about 20 metres, he was badly and permanently injured in the accident after he entered the water with his legs bent. The soldier alleged the MOD was negligent in giving permission for or encouraging the men to jump having done it on exercise the previous day.

Although the officers and men were off duty at the lake, rank and military discipline remained relevant. The swimming trips between organised adventure training were subject to military discipline. The MOD owed the soldiers a duty of care when they were at the lake. The officer in charge had a duty to take reasonable care to guard his subordinates against the foreseeable risk of injury, if they jumped from the bridge into the lake. By his own presence there in the circumstances that pertained and by reason of his rank, he assumed responsibility to prevent them from taking undue risks of which he was or ought to have been aware.

The MOD was liable. They should not have encouraged the soldier to jump but should have ordered him and his men not to do so. The court held the soldier had contributed to his injuries 40 per cent.

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