Dr Nicholas Bevan

Dr Nicholas Bevan
www.nicholasbevan.com

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

EUROPEAN DIRECTIVE SAVES STEEPLECHASE JOCKEY CLAIM



In Hide v The Steeplechase Company (Cheltenham) Ltd and others [2013] EWCA Civ 545 a professional jockey who sustained pelvic and head injuries when his horse stumbled just as it landed after jumping a hurdle in a steeplechase at Cheltenham.  He struck his head on the post of a nearby rail.  He sought compensation from the course owners and organizers.It was alleged that the rails and fencing were positioned too close to the hurdles for safety.

His claim failed at first instance but succeeded on appeal even though he could not establish either (i) that the layout design or maintenance of the course had been negligent or (ii) that there had been a breach of statutory duty - applying the ordinary and natural meaning of Regulation 4 of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.  

The Court of Appeal applied a purposive construction of the Framework Directive (89/391/EEC) and the Use of Work Equipment Directive (89/655/EEC) which effectively imposed strict liability in the way it impacted on the interpretation of our domestic regulations regardless of the fact that the hazard presented by the fencing was not reasonably foreseeable.  

This sort of claim would fail in a post s69 Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 world (for accidents on or after 1 October 2013), as henceforth it will be necessary establish a breach of the common law duty of care [See my earlier blog: A World Turned Upside Down]. 

A more detailed commentary on this case is published in the Quarterly Bulletin of Butterworths Personal Injury Litigation Service.

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