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Willett v Marks & Spencer, Court of Appeal

30 October 2002
The issues

Failure to give reasons – causation – back injury.

The facts

The Claimant alleged she had suffered a serious back injury in 1993 when moving large and heavy counters in the store in which she worked to another store. The Defendant alleged that the real cause of her injury was an accident a month later whilst she had still been off work and when she stumbled whilst climbing the stairs at home. The Claimant denied any connection other than the possibility that it was her original injury that had caused her to stumble. The Judge at first instance found that the Claimant’s injury had been caused by the accident on the stairs and was unrelated to the accident at work, but he gave no reasons.

The decision

1. The Judge was wrong in saying that he did not have to assess the separate causative impacts of the two accidents.

2. Finding that the injuries caused in the second incident were entirely the consequence of twisting on the stairs when the Claimant stumbled, he should have asked himself whether that accident was itself the result of the pain and problems caused by the first incident at work.

3. The fact that he failed to give any reasons undermined his conclusion. The Judgment would be set aside and the matter sent to the High Court for re-Trial before another Judge.

Appeal allowed.

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