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Betts v Tokley, Court of Appeal, 18 January 2002

29 January 2002
The issues

Tripping – unlit steps – Occupiers Liability Act – contributory negligence.

The facts

The Claimant was employed by the Defendant which operated as a taxi business. There were two exits to her place of work. The main one was through the front of the premises and there was a second one through the canteen and steps to a forecourt. The Claimant left the premises via the second exit at about 2.00 am because the front door was locked. The steps were unlit. She had to feel her way along the main wall as she went down them. She fell injuring her arm. The Judge found the Defendant was primarily liable under the OLA and made a finding of 60% contributory negligence because she had pressed on regardless of the risk of tripping.

The decision

1. The Judge’s finding was well within his discretionary ambit.

2. The Claimant had to establish that his decision was a decision no reasonable Judge could have reached. They had failed.

3. The facts showed clearly that the Claimant was at fault in the way in which she had approached the dark steps.

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