31 July, 2013
In the run up to the Third Ashes Test match at Old Trafford, Manchester, Forbes Insurance department in conjunction with Zurich Insurance recently had its own cricketing victory in Court by successfully defending a claim when it was alleged that the Claimant sustained a significant injury whilst playing cricket at a park which was owned and managed by the Council and hired out to a local Sunday Cricket league.
The Claimant alleged that he sustained a knee injury when he lost his footing and fell due to a hole in the ground which he alleged was present on the cricket square. He described the incident as occurring as he was batting in a league match and after starting to run he turned back to avoid being run out. He alleged a hole was present on the cricket square.
The claim was brought under the Occupiers Liability Act 1957 and it was alleged that the Council should have ensured that the park was reasonably safe for visitors by failing to detect and remedy the hole the Claimant said was present.
Evidence was heard from 10 witnesses including members of the cricket team the Claimant played for, the opposition team captain, umpire, league secretary and finally the Council's employees including the grounds man.
The evidence from the opposition team captain and umpire was that they have no recollection of any such incident occurring. Furthermore, the club team captain and the umpire had inspected the cricket square prior to the match without the ground being noted as OK on the Umpire's recording card.
Recorder Halliwell in dismissing the Claimant claim was not satisfied that there was a hole in the cricket square and the probable cause was that he had simply twisted his knee when running and when he turned back towards his own wicket. The Judge found that the Claimant simply sustained a sporting injury. No complaints were made to the Council following the accident by the Claimant or his team about the presence of a hole. The A & E recorded a history that the Claimant sustained injury whilst he turned quickly without any reference to a hole playing a part in the incident. The Claimant was ordered to pay the Council's costs of defending the claim.
The Council had a reasonable system in place whereby the ground prior to the weekend play would be mowed and ensured that it was fit to be played on. That system was found to be reasonable to satisfy the test under the Occupiers Liability Act 1957. A good continued liaison between the Council and the cricket league ensured that key witnesses to the alleged incident were able to be traced and formal statements obtained from them in support of the events on the day.