Summary of Recent Cases – Substantive Law


Judge Entitled To Find That Employer’s Failure To Provide Plumber With Non-Slip Mats Was A Breach Of Statutory Duty And Negligent

University of East Anglia v. Spalding, QBD, 3/3/11

Spencer J held that a trial judge had not erred in finding that the appellant employer’s failure to provide it’s plumber with a non-slip mat when working on a wet carpet constituted a breach of statutory duty (contrary to regulation 4 of the Personal Protective Equipment 1992 and regulation 3 of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999) and was negligent. The judge had been entitled to find that there was a risk of injury, thus engaging the 1999 Regulations and that on the facts, the appellant’s risk assessment had not gone far enough.

The Fairchild Causation Test Applies in Single Defendant Cases

Sienkiewicz v. Greif (UK) Ltd, SC, 9/3/11

The Supreme Court held that in cases of mesothelioma following wrongful exposure to asbestos by a single defendant, the causation test in Fairchild v. Glenhaven Funeral Services Ltd (t/a GH Dovener & Son) [2002] UKHL 22 applied. As such, liability would attach to a single defendant who, in breach of duty, had materially increased the risk of the victim contracting the disease. The Supreme Court rejected a proposed test that the claimant had to show that the defendant’s breach of duty had doubled the risk of him/her contracting mesothelioma.

Local Education Authority Liable In Negligence In Respect Of An Assault By Pupil On Teacher

Vaile v. Havering London Borough Council, CA, 11/3/11

The Court of Appeal allowed the appellant former teacher’s appeal against a decision dismissing her claim against the respondent for damages for personal injuries sustained in an assault by a pupil. The trial judge had found that the respondent had: (a) failed to identify the pupil as suffering from an autistic spectrum disorder; (b) failed to implement TEACCH or equivalent procedures for dealing with pupils with ASD and consequent learning difficulties; and (c) failed to implement properly the system of statementing the pupil’s special needs. However, the judge rejected the claim on grounds that there was no evidence that the educational provision made for the pupil was inadequate or that the respondent had failed to provide a safe system of work and that such failure had caused her injury. The Court of appeal held that the judge’s primary findings of fact should have led him to draw the obvious conclusion that the respondent had failed to provide the appellant with a safe system of work. As to causation, the Court of Appeal held that whilst it was difficult for the appellant to show precisely what she or the school could have done to avoid the incident if she had been appropriately instructed in techniques for dealing with pupils with ASD, the probability was that if proper care had been taken by the respondent, she would not have met with the injury she did.

April 13, 2011 · Editorial Team · Comments Closed
Posted in: Cases