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Singh v Libro Holidays Limited, High Court

18 March 2003
The issues

Swimming pool – signing – supervision.

The facts

This matter came before the High Court Judge on a preliminary issue. The Claimant suffered complete tetraplegia when he had dived into the shallow end of a swimming pool whilst on holiday in Aiyanappa. He was 27 at the time of the accident and was holidaying with a male group of friends and relations. He was an experienced swimmer. He had entered the pool by means of shallow dives in the shallow end together with a friend, with impunity throughout the holiday. On this occasion, he had slipped as he dived. No one at the hotel had tried to stop him. The Defendant’s evidence was that the Claimant was part of a group who had been rowdy and some of whom were drunk. They were very wet and had obviously been in and out of the pool. There were signs about the pool prohibiting diving and also prohibiting use of the pool after 10.00 pm. The accident had occurred at about 8.20 in the morning. The Claimant sued under Regulation 15 of the Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992.

The decision

1. The Claimant and those with him had consumed alcohol to serious excess before the accident. Whilst the likelihood of an accident occurring through a dive into the pool could be described as modest to low, the possible consequences of any such accident were potentially very serious indeed (applying the test given by Lord Read in Morris -v- West Hartlepool 1956).

2. The signs provided were inadequate and did not discharge the Hotel’s duty of care. It would have been preferable for one of the signs to be so positioned so that every user of the shallow end could see it.

3. The pool was not large and was surrounded by short-term young holidaymakers, all potentially boisterous and many drunk. This had to be borne in mind when considering adequacy of supervision. A permanent “spoil sport Supervisor would be counter-productive. Low-key benign attendance would be acceptable subject to the issue of inadequacy of signage, which therefore raised further concerns about the supervision.

4. Whilst the pool was not open until 9.00 am there were no steps to communicate the fact to guests and guests therefore were entitled to regard it as open at 8.30 am on a summer morning.

5. There was no basis for finding that the breach of duty with respect to signage made any material contribution to the accident. The Claimant had conceded in cross-examination that he did not need anyone to tell him not to dive into the shallow end. Moreover, at the time, the state of signage was wholly irrelevant given the Claimant’s condition. The signage and supervision “had no obvious relevance to conduct in and around this pool on the part of those in short term retreat from self-discipline. The Claimant was the author of his own mis-fortune.

Claim dismissed.

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