Court of Appeal decision clarifies occupier’s liability for unforeseeable accidents

February 2006

Live concert industry

Lewis v Six Continents Plc January 20 th 2006

In a decision reminiscent of the common sense approach taken by the House of Lords in Tomlinson v Congleton Borough Council & Others . The UK’s Court of Appeal have held that a hotel operator had no duty of care to fit bars or blocks inhibiting the opening of bedroom windows in a hotel so as to prevent injury from a fall. The case may give some comfort to venue operators and promoters who face liability claims from visitors to their premises and events. The appellant, Christian Lewis, had fallen from a second floor window in 2000 and suffered serious injuries. Whilst he had been drinking it was accepted that he was not drunk at the time and the fall was unexplained. The aperture was 68cm. Lewis relied on S2 of the Occupiers Liability Act 1957 and that the hotel had failed in its duty to take reasonable care. The trial judge (Mr Roger Ter Harr QC) held that it was not reasonably foreseeable that an adult occupying the hotel room leaning forward would fall from the window and the court held that there was no duty of care on the defendant to require them to install limiters or blocks on sash windows to restrict their opening. Source: Times Law Reports.

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