The Court of Justice of the European Communities has rejected an application by the
Commission of the European Communities for a declaration that, by restricting the duty on employers to ensure the safety and health of workers in all aspects related to work to a duty to do only that which was “so far as is reasonably practicable”, the UK had failed to fulfil its obligations. The court found that having the phrase “so far as is reasonably practicable” in UK legislation did not entail an infringement of the European Community Law.

Commission of the European Communities -v- UK. The Court of Justice of the European Communities, 14 June 2007.

Trussing chickens is not manual handling

In a Scottish case, the Court of Session held that a process worker trussing chicken carcasses was not performing a manual handling operation for the purposes of the regulations. Having watched a video of the work process, which mainly consisted of employees working on carcasses on a work bench, or picking them up for a moment to apply the trussing string before placing them back on the workbench, the Judge concluded that, while manipulation was being performed, there was no transporting or supporting of a load.

Hughes -v- Grampian Country Food Group Limited. Court of Session, 18 May 2007.

Two motor cases

Hitting a pedestrian on a pedestrian crossing normally gives rise to liability but in a recent case a bus driver was found not to have been negligent in hitting a pedestrian at a pedestrian crossing since traffic signals had been green in favour of the bus and the pedestrian stepped out having failed to check for oncoming vehicles.

The court held that for the bus to have stopped at the distance it did from the crossing and the point of impact it could have been travelling at no more than about 10 mph which was well within the speed limit in that particular traffic zone. The driver had not been negligent in not noticing the claimant or anticipating that a pedestrian might step onto the crossing.

Maranowka -v- Richardson and Arriva plc. Judge Seymour QC, 25 May 2007, EWHC 1264 (QB).

The second case involved a cyclist who was hit by a driver travelling at over 50 mph in a 30 mph zone while under the influence of crack cocaine. The driver failed to stop and abandoned his vehicle. One of the issues was whether there was contributory negligence. The Judge held that the driver had to establish on the balance of probabilities that the cyclist was at fault, that the fault was causative of the injuries suffered and that it would be just and equitable for the damages to be reduced. The court accepted the evidence of the only witness who recalled that the claimant had looked down the road at some point prior to crossing on his cycle.

There was expert evidence that suggested that the claimant had not continued to look down the road before moving out from behind a van and had he done so he would have seen the oncoming car. However a breach of the Highway Code if established, did not create a presumption of negligence but merely a factor to be taken into account when considering the issue. The claimant probably took adequate steps to look out before crossing the road but was deceived by the speed of the oncoming vehicle. The defendant was unable to discharge his burden in order to establish contributory fault.

Wakeling -v- McDonagh. Judge Mckie QC, 25 May 2007 (2007), EWHC1201 (QB).