Personal Injury Solicitor Tristan Hallam wins a claim for an off duty police officer for an accident in a public place
10 June 2012
The now retired Hampshire police officer was injured in an accident whilst off-duty on a P&O Cruise. The officer slipped in a restaurant area on board the ship where water had been allowed to collect on the floor. A claim was brought against P&O Cruises who denied liability; the denial of liability was maintained to trial at Southampton County Court which lasted for two days. Although the Court accepted that the water which had been allowed to collect on the floor had led to the officer slipping and suffering injury, the Judge did not accept P&O Cruises had failed in its duty. Instead, the Judge accepted that a reasonable system of inspection had been employed despite there being no evidence produced by P&O at trial. The Judge’s decision, based on the current case law, was the wrong decision and the claim was appealed to one of the highest Courts, the Court of Appeal, which resulted in the Court finding successfully in favour of the officer. The law applied and argued on behalf of the officer that it was not straight forward. In order to establish a defence, P&O Cruises had to do more than simply produce evidence showing what the system of inspection was likely to have been. They had to provide the Judge with evidence that the system of inspection to ensure that liquid was not allowed to collect had been working correctly at the time of the accident.
This follows on from an earlier Court of Appeal case Ward v Tescos which established in clear terms, that so long as the injured person can establish that they slipped within an area in which the occupier is responsible for ensuring is safe, the burden of establishing liability then shifts onto the Defendant.
The Defendant then has a duty to establish to the satisfaction of a Judge, that at the time of the accident, an appropriate system was in place to look out for any slippages and that this was working correctly. If the Defendants do not establish this position, they will fail to shift the burden back onto the Claimant and the Claimant will succeed. Tristan's client was finally successful in the claim in an action which was not a straight forward, but which finally succeeded before the Court of Appeal.