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The Case of the Mystery Footpath

Our client was injured on a footpath which initially wasn’t even deemed a footpath and one which nobody knew who was responsible for its maintenance. As part of the judgement from the Court the Judge stated:

"Agatha Christie might well have entitled this, 'The case of the mystery footpath'. When the path, the subject of this claim, was built, by whom and who owns the land upon which it was constructed is either not known or has not been disclosed. Furthermore, its status is disputed...’

This sums up the case in which we had to prove who owed the land and who was responsible for our client’s injuries. The case in question was Canagasingham -v- Kent County Council which was heard on 6 November at the Mayor’s & City of London Court by Judge Andrew Wallis.

Our client lives in a housing development close to Bluewater Shopping Centre in Kent. There are a set of descending steps on a footpath leading from the housing development down to the shopping centre. The steps were in disrepair and on 12 October 2010 our client stumbled and fell on one of the defective steps at the top of the footpath. She sustained multiple minor injuries, the most severe being an injury to her right elbow. 

A claim was sent to Kent County Council whose insurers immediately denied liability on the grounds that the footpath was a public right of way. They claimed there had been 20 years of continuous unfettered use by the public and therefore they were not liable to maintain or repair the footpath

This was a difficult case to prove fault. However, after much debate about who was responsible to repair the footpath, Judge Wallis went on to consider whether the council had maintained the path and found in the claimant’s favour that they had not. Contributory negligence was not pursued by the defendants and therefore judgement was given in favour of our client to the sum of £10,000 personal injury compensation.

Slater and Gordon offer a free consultation for people injured in accidents through no fault of their own. Contact us here.

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