Summary of Recent Cases – Substantive Law


PERSONAL INJURY & FATAL ACCIDENTS

Consideration of Local Authority’s Duty Of Care To Claimant Who Had Crossed Road From Its Land And A Gap In The Fence
Armstrong v. (1) Keepmoat Homes Ltd (2) Northumberland County Council (3) Blyth Valley Borough Council, QBD (Newcastle), 03/02/12
HHJ Simon Wood (sitting as a Deputy High Court Judge) dismissed the Claimant’s claim for damages pursuant to the Occupiers’ Liability Act 1957 and in negligence. The Claimant, who was 12 at the time of the accident, claimed damages for personal injuries sustained when she was struck by a motorist causing extensive head injuries as she was trying to cross a dual carriageway. Whilst there were 2 safe routes for crossing the carriageway, the Claimant had taken neither and had attempted to cross at a point of access from a gap in a fence in local authority land adjoining the carriageway. On the evidence, it was held that the local authority had constructive knowledge of the gap in the fence and the path from the edge of the land to the road and thus that it had had impliedly consented to it being used by lawful visitors for the purposes of the Occupiers’ Liability Act 1957. However, there was no duty on an occupier to prevent a visitor from leaving his land so as to safeguard the visitor from coming into contact with danger on neighbouring land. In the instant case, the danger had not arisen from the land itself. HHJ Simon Wood held that the test of liability was whether the local authority had expressly or impliedly assented to the Claimant attempting to cross the road through the gap in the fence and held that what the Claimant did after she had left the local authority’s land had not been expressly or impliedly assented to. Consequently, the claim failed.

Court Of Appeal Consideration Of The Voluntary Assumption Of Risk Defence Pursuant To Section 5(2) Of The Animals Act 1971
Goldsmith v. Patchcott, CA), 27/02/12
The Court of Appeal dismissed the Appellant’s appeal against the decision that the Respondent was not strictly liable for the injuries she sustained whilst she was riding a horse which had reared up and thrown her to the ground. The Court below had found that the Appellant had voluntarily assumed the risk that the horse would rear and buck if it was alarmed or startled and therefore that the Respondent had a valid defence pursuant to section 5(2) of the Animals Act 1971. The Court of Appeal held that in order for a defendant to successfully avail itself of the statutory defence to strict liability for injuries caused by dangerous animals, it was not necessary to establish that the injured person should foresee the precise degree of energy or force with which the animal would engage in its characteristic behaviour. The Court of Appeal held that the fact that the horse in the instant case had bucked more violently than had been anticipated by the Appellant did not take the case outside section 5(2) so as to defeat the Respondent’s defence.

6 Week Prison Sentences For Respondents Who Had Admitted Bringing A Fraudulent Personal Injury Claim
Liverpool Victoria Insurance Company Limited v. Bashir & Ors, QBD (Admin), 28/02/12
Sir John Thomas (President) and Silber J granted the Applicant insurance company’s application for the committal of the Respondents for contempt of court. The Respondents had admitted bringing and supporting a fraudulent claim for personal injury within a contrived road traffic accident. Two of the Respondents were sentenced to 6-weeks’ imprisonment. This sentence reflected a significant reduction from the 12-months’ imprisonment which the Court would have imposed but for the facts that they had admitted the fraud and assisted the applicant in its investigations by the disclosure of information. However, the Court took the view that their conduct nevertheless had to be deterred. The 2 other Respondents received suspended sentences of 6-weeks’ imprisonment due to their lesser involvement.

March 16, 2012 В· Editorial Team В· Comments Closed
Posted in: Cases