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Hall v Bolton Metropolitan Borough Council

15 November 2001
The issues

Procedure – alteration of case at trial.

The facts

Claimant Teacher sued Bolton for personal injuries on the grounds that she had been assaulted by a pupil who had learning difficulties and behaviour problems. There was a policy with regard to the treatment of the pupil but the Claimant alleged that it was inadequate and it amounted to failure to provide her with a safe system of work. During the trial the Claimants Expert had a problem attending. Accordingly the Judge allowed the Local Authority to call the Deputy Head for his Expert Evidence and then allowed the Claimants Expert to continue to finish her oral evidence. At the end of the oral evidence the Judge said that he was unsure what the Claimants case was. He requested written confirmation over an adjournment. The Claimants Council produced a written note, which went into greater detail as to why the Claimants case that the policy with regard to the child was inadequate should be accepted. The Local Authority claimed that this was a new Pleading. The Judge did not accept that argument and the trial continued, the Claimant being successful. The Local Authority appealed on the grounds that the note gave the Claimant an unfair advantage, in particular given the fact that the Claimants Expert was allowed to continue giving oral evidence after the Local Authority had called its own evidence.

The decision

1. The Local Authority could have dealt with the “advantage” that the note had as far as the Claimant was concerned by dealing with it in closing speeches.

2. No application to adduce for the evidence had been made by the Local Authority and it was not clear what evidence the Local Authority would have wanted to call had it been able to seen the note before.

3. The Judge had all the evidence before him. The Court could not interfere with his decision on the basis of a hypothetical scenario.

Appeal Dismissed.

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