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Geest Plc v Lansiquot (Privy Counsel)

15 October 2002
The issues

Damages – mitigation – refusal to undertake medical treatment.

The facts

This was an Appeal from the High Court of St Lucia

The Claimant suffered a back injury. There was the possibility that she could undergo a surgical operation to improve her pain. She had been told that the operation was the only way that the pain would be improved, but that its success could not be guaranteed. She decided against the operation. The Defendant argued that this was unreasonable of her and that she had failed to mitigate her loss.

The decision

1. A previous decision of the Board in Selvanayagam -v- The University of the West Indies could no longer be relied upon as an accurate statement of the law.

2. The burden was on the Defendant to prove failure by the Claimant to mitigate damage and not on the Claimant to show that her refusal to undertake the operation was reasonable.

3. On the evidence, there was nothing to suggest that the Claimant had been unreasonable.

4. On a general point, where a Defendant alleged that a Claimant had failed to mitigate, notice should be given long enough before the Hearing to enable the Claimant to meet that case. If there were no pleadings, the notice should be given by letter.

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