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Palmer v Marks & Spencer Plc, Court of Appeal

16 October 2001
The issues

Slipping accidents – Employer liability.

The facts

The Claimant worked for Marks & Spencer. She tripped on a weather strip in the store. The weather strip was on an activated door at the end of a well-lit corridor. It was a staff exit. The weather strip was between 8 and 9 1/2mm higher than the surrounding floor. It had been there for up to two years and up to 8000 people would have walked over it during that time. There were no known previous accidents or complaints. At first instance the Judge found for the Claimant, that the traffic route was not suitable for its purpose and that it was uneven. The Defendants appealed.

The decision

It was obvious that a weather strip would make a floor uneven if set higher than the floor. A balancing exercise had to be made having regard to the way in which the floor was constructed as to the seriousness of the risk of injury as against the cost of putting it right. The issues included the nature of the risk, the fact that the strip was by a door, the fact that it was only 9 1/2mm at its highest, and the fact that it was next to a step.

The Claimant knew the exit well.

The Claimant was 63 and walked without picking her feet up. Presumably she was not the only employee that walked that way – people like her had managed to go through the door without difficulty. It was impossible to say that the floor was not suitable. It did not expose individual’s safety risks. Not every trip could entitle the Claimant to compensation and the Court should have reached that conclusion. Appeal allowed.

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The content on this page is provided for the purposes of general interest and information. It contains only brief summaries of aspects of the subject matter and does not provide comprehensive statements of the law. It does not constitute legal advice and does not provide a substitute for it.

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