Iain O’Donnell wins an appeal of a case in which the Claimant had alleged that West Sussex County Council (‘WSCC’) stood to be found liable under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 and the Manual Handling Operations regulations 1992 for an accident she had sustained in the workplace. It was submitted on her behalf that by virtue of the fact that WSCC did not at the material time have in place in risk assessment for the task in which she was engaged at the time of her accident, she ought as of right to be able to establish a primary liability on the part of WSCC. The court below was persuaded, albeit reluctantly, that this argument had force and found for the Claimant accordingly.

WSCC appealed inter alia on the basis that the Claimant’s factual account of her accident had been entirely undermined in cross-examination, such that the first instance Judge found her to be an unreliable historian, and that her accident was the result of simple misfortune rather than any breach of a workplace duty.

The appeal was successful: Tomlinson LJ found that the Claimant had indeed given dishonest evidence, and that the court below had been persuaded by a misconceived argument on causation. Whether or not WSCC had failed to complete a risk assessment for the activity in which the Claimant was engaged at the material time was only relevant to the extent that the Claimant was able to establish that any such failure was causative of her accident, and the Court of Appeal found that she had manifestly failed to so establish causation in the instant case.

The judgment can be read here.