Yesterday the Court of Appeal considered an important issue of 'elf and safety' and gave judgment against Father Christmas (and his elf) in the festive case of Dufosse v Melbry Events Ltd.
The Defendant, M, was contracted by a department store to run its Santa's grotto. Mrs Dufosse suffered injury when she tripped on a plastic tree decoration shaped like an icicle that had fallen to the floor.
M's case was that both Father Christmas (from his position on his throne) and his elf would check the floor of the grotto in between visitors in order to check whether the area was reasonably safe.
The Court of Appeal accepted that this was a reasonable system. The question was whether the system had operated properly on the day. Had the icicle not been noticed because it was hidden from view, or because it had been missed by the restricted Santa and his busy elf? The Court of Appeal found the latter. If it was there to be tripped over, it was there to be seen.
Perhaps ignoring the season of good cheer, the Court of Appeal were of the view that the District Judge had taken an overly benevolent view of the performance by Santa and his elf of their respective duties. Mrs Dufosse's appeal was allowed.