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Ann Coley v. Securicor Group plc


Personal injuries, breach of duty, damages


 Court of Appeal (Civil Division)

Act, Regulation or Reference:

Court of Appeal (Civil Division)

Date: 1998


Lord Justice Simon Brown, dismissed Mrs Coley’s claim in 1996 for damages for personal injuries alleged to have been caused in the course of her employment by the defendant Securicor Ltd. The claim gave rise to three issues:

First, whether the defendants were negligent in allowing Mrs C to work in the way she did and failing to warn her that if she worked additional hours she might
suffer some harm and ought to keep a look out for symptoms;

Second, whether her condition was in fact caused by her employment with the defendants or was constitutional; Third, there was an issue as the quantum of damages if she was successful in her claim.

The judge decided the issue of negligence in favour of the defendants. He did not need therefore to decide questions of causation or damage, but he did go on to consider the question of causation, which he decided in favour of Mrs C.  However, in view of his decision on the first issue he gave judgment for the defendants.

The Decision

Appeal dismissed,
 (1) The Expert's analysis of what should have been done was not the test in establishing whether the defendants had been in breach of their duty to warn the plaintiff: the test was whether a reasonable employer would have so done. In any event the judge had concluded that the experts' opinions were clouded by hindsight. In this respect the judge had applied the correct test

 (2) In determining whether a reasonable employer would have been aware of the risks reference was made to HSE publications MS10 (Beat Conditions Tenosynovitis) and "Work Related Upper Limb Disorder - A Guide to Prevention". Neither publication would have put a reasonable employer on notice as to the risk.

 (3) In the circumstances there was not even a duty on the employer to consider calling for experts to advise as to whether there were any risks.