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Barr v Coventry and Solihull Waste Disposal Co Ltd & Another

21 May 2002
The issues

Employment – control. Employee working on another’s premises – apportionment.

The facts

The First Defendant employed the Claimant. The Claimant worked on the Second Defendant’s premises. He suffered an injury on the Second Defendant’s premises, when a barrow that he was pushing went over a manhole cover which collapsed. Metal from the barrow crushed the Claimant’s foot. Liability to the Claimant was concluded. The remaining issue was the question of apportionment of liability between employer and Second Defendant. The Judge at first instance, apportioned liability equally between employer and Second Defendant, finding as against the employer, that it had failed to carry out any assessment of the work carried out by the Claimant or as to the premises on which the work was to be done. Such an assessment would have brought the load bearing capacity of the manhole cover to employers attention.

The First Defendant appealed.

The decision

1. The Claimant was very experienced. The manhole cover was dangerous, but it was a danger unknown to any party.

2. Unless First Defendants had inspected the premises and carefully examined the cover, it would not have discovered the danger. It was entitled to assume that the route was safe, having regard to the fact that in particular, the Claimant had used the route before. Moreover, had Second Defendants been asked, they would have said that the route was safe.

3. It was impossible to conclude that First Defendant should have known of the danger and that First Defendant was in breach of its common law duty of care.

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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