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Gwilliam v West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust, Court of Appeal

31 July 2002
The issues

Occupiers liability – Charity Fete – trampoline injury.

The facts

The Claimant was injured at a hospital fundraising fair when using a “splat-wall” (the object being to bounce on a trampoline and stick to a wall by means of velcro). The equipment had been hired and set up by the Second Defendant to the action. The Hospital had paid extra when booking for the Second Defendant to provide staff for the equipment. The Hospital would have the benefit of the Second Defendant’s Public Liability Insurance. In fact, that insurance expired 4 days before the Fair. The Judge at first instance dismissed the claim against the Hospital Trust. The Claimant appealed.

The decision

1. The Hospital was at all times occupier and therefore owed the common duty of care under Section 2(I) of the Occupiers Liability Act 1957.

2. That duty was to take such care as was in all the circumstances reasonable to see that the Claimant would be reasonably safe when using the premises to which he had been invited.

3. That permission extended to the use of the splat wall.

4. The intervention of an independent contractor did not mean that the Hospital owed no duty. It could fulfil that duty if it employed an appropriate competent contractor. If it had not taken appropriate steps to ensure that the contractor was competent, it would have been liable under the Occupiers Liability Act.

5. Those enquiries included enquiry into the insurance position of the contractor, so as to confirm the contractor’s suitability and trustworthiness with regard to the operation of the equipment. The only information the Hospital had obtained had come from the Second Defendant himself. The Hospital asked about the insurance but did not ask to see the Policy. The Judge had found that they had no reason to believe the insurance was not in force. That was as far as the Hospital needed to have gone. It was important to note that the contract with the contractor had made provision for insurance to be in place.

Appeal dismissed.

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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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