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Collins v Tesco, Court of Appeal, 24 July 2003

29 July 2003
The issues

Limitation – date of knowledge

The facts

The Claimant worked for the Defendant in a petrol kiosk. Part of her duties involved re-stocking goods. She had to collect them in a metal cage from a nearby store. She claimed that she had injured her right shoulder and that the Defendant was to blame. Her evidence was that she had first had pain in her shoulder in late 1996. She had carried on working until the 26th June 1998 when she returned for short periods of time. On the 14th January 1998 she went to a Consultant Rheumatologist. On the 26th June 1998 she went to a Physiotherapist who told her that the strain in her shoulder had been caused by heavy lifting. She issued a Claim Form on the 26th January 2001. The Defendant pleaded limitation. The Judge found for the Claimant on the issue on the basis that she had become aware of the significance of the injury when she went to see the Physiotherapist and the fact that she knew moving the metal cages caused pain did not mean that she knew her injury was attributable to her work. He found that when she met the Rheumatologist she had expected the symptoms to go away with rest. The Defendant appealed.

The decision

1. It was not appropriate to take an over elaborate approach to the question of knowledge.

2. Whilst the effect on the particular Claimant might be a factor the test as to date of knowledge was objective.

3. By January 1998 the only conclusion on the evidence was that the Claimant had knowledge of a significant injury. The link necessary to establish knowledge in terms of attributability was clear by the same date. Appeal allowed.

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