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When an accident is just an accident: first judicial guidance on ERRA - Seema Bains, DWF

20/09/18. Cockerill v CXK Ltd & Artwise Community Partnership, High Court (QB), 17 May 2018 - Seema Bains Partner in DWF's London office and Nigel Lewers of 12 King's Bench Walk acted for an employer and their insurers, in what we believe to be the first reported case to consider the application of s.69 of the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013. The claim involved a tripping accident which occurred somewhat serendipitously on 1 October 2013, the very day the new Act came into force. Seema outlines the findings and how the court applied s.69 in Cockerill v CXK Ltd & Artwise Community Partnership (2018).

Background

The claimant was employed by the first defendant as a careers adviser. The first defendant is a charity which had successfully bid to run a training programme for vulnerable young people.

To run one of their programmes in Kent, the first defendant hired from the second defendant, space within an old Victorian primary school building being run as a community centre. The first defendant relied upon the risk assessment of the premises as carried out by the second defendant

The claimant alleged that as she entered the main building, she noticed a 'Caution – Mind The Step' sign on the main door, which warned her of a step with a 7 inch drop into the property. It was stated that the claimant entered a dark/dimly lit cramped lobby which led to a kitchen area. A door between the lobby and the kitchen area opened out of the lobby into the kitchen area with a self-closing mechanism. It had a large glazed window in the upper part to about handle height. There were was clear signage on the lobby side of the door warning of the step that led from the lobby into the kitchen area. It was this step which had the 7 inch drop. The claimant alleged that the door had been propped open and therefore she was not afforded the opportunity of seeing the warning sign on the door, so that as she walked through the lobby area into the kitchen area she missed the step, falling to the floor.

The claimant presented a significant claim (pleaded in excess of £750,000) for damages on the basis that she had developed a chronic pain type syndrome.

The matter proceeded to a liability only trial in the High Court in March where the claimant's case came down to two issues:

Image ©iStockphoto.com/PashaIgnatov

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