Vann v Ocidental [2015] EWCA Civ 572

Proceedings arose from an accident in Portugal in which two pedestrians were killed after being knocked down by a speeding car while in the process of crossing a road.

The case came for trial before Supperstone J on 17th and 18th February 2014. It was an agreed fact at trial that soon after the pedestrians stepped into the road the offending car’s headlights would have been in their field of vision and the sound of the car audible. In judgment handed down on 3 March 2014, Supperstone J held that the claimants succeeded on liability and there was no contributory negligence.

The Defendant appealed against that decision on the grounds that the two pedestrians were negligent in that they failed to keep a proper look out or to move away from the path of the oncoming car.

Giving the majority judgment of the Court (with which Floyd LJ and Dame Janet Smith agreed), Jackson LJ held that though “[the Court] must not disturb the judge’s finding of primary fact”, “the Judge’s finding that [the two pedestrians] were keeping a proper look out….is not…a finding of primary fact at all”. He held that Supperstone J’s finding that the two pedestrians were keeping a proper look out was an impermissible inference drawn from the primary facts of the case.

Jackson LJ proceeded to hold that because the offending car had its headlights on and its engine was audible, the pedestrians ought to have noticed its approach before they crossed the centre of the road. The pedestrians’ negligence was therefore a contributory cause of the accident and a 20% deduction was made for contributory negligence.

June 15, 2015 В· Editorial Team В· Comments Closed
Posted in: Cases