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Pledger v Martin

28 April 2000
The issues

Construction Working Places Regulations 1966 – Request for Clarification – Amendment at Trial

The facts

The Claimant suffered an accident at work when he fell from the top of an asbestos roof. He alleged that no working platform was provided for him. Three breaches of the CWPR 1966 were pleaded. The Defendant’s case was that a platform had been provided. The Defendant requested clarification of the allegations the Claimant might make if a platform had been used. The Claimant maintained his claim that no platform was provided. At Trial the Claimant relied on the alternative case that if the Judge found there was a working platform that it breached various safety regulations. This was not pleaded. The Claimant argued that as Defendant contended a platform was used and that it complied with the regulations, he was entitled to challenge this and establish breaches. The Defendant objected and the Judge agreed holding that it behoved the Claimant to have pleaded this aspect of the case if he wished to rely on it. Leave to amend applied for by the Claimant.

The decision

Claimant’s application refused. The proposed amendment raised a new cause of action which did not arise out of substantially the same facts of the existing claim. An amendment would require an adjournment and expert evidence. The Claimant was legally aided. The Defendant was unlikely to recoup its costs of the adjournment. In all the circumstances and particularly that the Claimant himself was always maintain that there was no platform, the Judge would not exercise his discretion under Section 33 of the Limitation Act to rely on new cause to be pleaded. Quoting with approval Jeffery Lane J as he then was in Waghorn v George Wimpey & Co Limited [1969] 1 W.L.R. 1764 “one must test the Plaintiff’s submissions in this way; if these allegations had been made upon the pleadings in the first place namely allegations based on the facts they have now emerged, with the Defendant’s preparation of the case and conduct of the trial, have been any different?”

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