The claimant was a fairly experienced although nervous horse rider. She rode with two other people in part of a cross county over five obstacles, which she had previously ridden without complaint or apparent difficulty. One of the obstacles was a drop down from level ground. She approached this at a fast trot and fell off the horse suffering very serious head injuries.

The Judge held that the riding instructor had not been negligent in failing to warn her of an alleged hazard on the course, as it was not dangerous and not foreseeable that anyone would perceive it as dangerous.

MacClancy -v- Carenza. Mr Justice Openshaw, 16 March 2007, EW8C479 (QB).

Dock workers win asbestos claim

The issue before the Court of Appeal was whether the National Dock Labour Board owed the claimants a duty of care to take reasonable steps to protect their health and safety in respect of work carried out by them as registered dock workers. In the 1950s and 60s, their work involved unloading hessian sacks containing asbestos. When a dock worker was unloading a ship, he would be employed by a registered employer and paid by the board as agent for the employer. When not working for a registered employer he was in the employment of the board.

The two claimants suffered asbestos-related illnesses from which they died. They brought their claims against the board alleging that the illnesses were caused by their breach of duty. The Court of Appeal held that it was fair, just and reasonable to impose a common law duty of care on the board requiring them to protect their individual employees against a known serious risk to their health where part of the statute enacting the board’s training and welfare scheme was clearly aimed at protecting the health of dock workers in the board’s employment. The proposition of the defendants, that a body created by statute could not be recognised as having a common law duty of care, was untenable.

Wright & Thompson -v- Secretary of State for Trade & Industry. Court of Appeal, 4 April 2007.