Mrs Dusek commenced claims in the High Court alleging that StormHarbour were in breach of their duty of care to provide a safe place of work, safe equipment and a safe system of working. The defendant denied that they could be held accountable for safety issues on board the helicopter that had been chartered by Peruvian clients from a local operator who held the appropriate operator’s license in Peru.
Lord Justice Hamblen held in favour of the claimant, finding that StormHarbour owed a duty of care for its employees’ safety, which was breached by failing to organise a suitable risk assessment for the journey. He added that such a risk assessment would have spotted issues around poor weather conditions, limitations of the helicopter, and the fact that the flight crew were tired – breaching local regulations.
This unusual case highlights that, even when the fault has occurred as a result of a third party, the UK employer can still be legally responsible for what happened.