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Whittle v Weymouth Portland Borough Council, Bournemouth County Court

11 December 2002
The issues

Occupiers Liability Act – Dock Regulations 1988 – slipping.

The facts

The Claimant and his wife arrived at about midnight at the arrivals hall in Weymouth having disembarked from the Condor Ferry on which they had travelled from the Channel Islands. The Claimant alleged that he fell as a result of a wet floor in the arrival hall. Carpet was laid in a covered passage along which the Claimant had to walk which took him to the uncarpeted arrivals hall. Since the accident the arrivals hall has also been carpeted. At the time the arrivals hall was painted and repainted every year with non-slip paint. The accident report form referred to the cause of the accident as being a “wet floor”. The Claimant relied on the common duty of care under the Occupiers Liability Act and under Regulation 7 of the Dock Regulations requiring a mandatory duty to provide and maintain a safe means of access to every part of dock premises and to ensure that all floors, decks, surfaces, stairs, steps, passages and gangways in dock premises should be kept free from substances likely to cause a person to slip or fall.

The decision

(i) Following Laverton v Kiapasha the Court had to be aware against imposing “a near strict liability” under the Occupiers Liability Act.

(ii) On the evidence the floor was not damp or wet when the Claimant fell. The accident report form had been filled in on the basis of the Claimant’s own information. It was not independent evidence in support of the Claimant.

(iii) Even if the floor had been wet, the presence of non-slip paint and the extent of carpet in the passage leading to the hall amounted to reasonable precautions in the circumstances. Claim dismissed.

Comments

For further information, please contact Hamish McConachie on hcm@vpinsurance.net

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