This case arose as a result of the Claimant alleging that she had fallen down a single step which was dimly lit in a clubhouse of the Defendants premises.
The facts of the case were that the Claimant had entered the clubhouse at about 7.30pm during the children’s entertainment part of the evening. She stepped up a single step onto a raised seating area, which is where she sat for some 45 mins. She then went to go towards the toilet and fell down the same step she had used previously. She sustained a broken ankle as a result of the fall. The Claimant alleged that the step area was poorly lit, was not defined from the surrounding area and therefore the floor looked flat. She further alleged that other steps within the premises had yellow and black hazard tape attached and that after the accident the Defendant had put white tape on the step to make it more ‘noticeable’.
The claim was defended on the basis that the lighting was adequate and reasonable, that the step was not a hazard or defective and that the Claimant was in fact the author of her own misfortune.
The Defendant was able to establish that the lights were on as it was children’s entertainment taking place and the main entertainment (when the lights are dimmed) had not yet started. Further the Defendant was able to show that the Claimant did not cast her mind to the step on her journey to the toilet, a step she had used only 45 mins earlier. Counsel for the Defendant was also able to elicit from the Claimant that she was talking to a colleague whilst walking towards the step and that she did not realise she was on a raised area and that she had forgotten about the step. The Claimant further admitted that she had not realised that the lights had been dimmed; this was however denied that such had taken place. The Defendant was also able to show through records that since 2009 there had been no accidents of a similar nature despite there being other such steps within the premises.
The claim came before District Judge Tomlinson at Clerkenwell and Shoreditch County Court.
The Judge found that the fact that the claimant had not turned her mind to the step despite her stating that it was pitch black was beyond comprehension. The fact that she had stepped up onto a raised area and then, if as alleged by the Claimant, the area is in total darkness yet she does not turn her mind to where she has to step would stretch the bounds somewhat. The judge also found that to require a premises to mark every step with a warning sign or hazard tape would see the law and common sense parting company. Steps are an everyday hazard and part of normal life. The judge found that there would have been ambient light from the bar area, the entrance area and various amusement machines within the premises. He also relied on the fact that no other accidents had been reported of a similar nature from 2009. He found the Claimant to be mistaken in a number of aspects relative to her claim.
The judge also considered the case law within the Defendant’s skeleton argument and that although white tape was adhered to the surface after the alleged accident that a Defendant does not furnish evidence against themselves by seeking to prevent further accidents by the implementation of a plan or remedial action.
The claim was dismissed.