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Barlow v Smith, Queen's Bench Division, 15 May 2000

1 June 2000
The issues

Pedestrians Fooling around – Drivers standard of care

The facts

A High Court Judge ordered Judgement to be entered against the Claimant with a reduction of 50% for contributory negligence. The Claimant has been severely injured crossing a road when struck by a car driven by the Defendant. The Defendant had driven at 25 mph through a green light. The Claimant had been larking around at the side of the road with a number of friends. The Claimant had run out into the road. The Judge found that the Defendant had not been keeping a proper lookout and accordingly had been negligent but the Claimant had been 50% responsible.

The Defendant Appealed.

The decision

1. There was no doubt that the Defendant had failed to keep a proper lookout and had been negligent. However, the issue was whether the negligence had been causative of the accident.

2. On the Judges findings the car had been too close to the point of impact for the driver to have taken any action to avoid the collision.

3. The Judge had asked himself whether a reasonably careful driver would have seen the Claimant at the side of the road before he had run out and would have anticipated that he might do so. This issue however was contrary to findings made by the Judge and in particular the fact that he had said he was not concerned with what had been happening before the Claimant ran out.

4. It was an unrealistic demand to be placed on a driver travelling at 25 mph through a green traffic light on an A class road to say that he should have anticipated that one of the men including the Claimant might run out. Appeal allowed.

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