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PI and Civil Litigation

Law - practice - procedure

Anthony Gold Solicitors , 04 NOV 2015

Jason Lowdon v Jumpzone Leisure UK Ltd [2015] EWCA Civ 586

Jason Lowdon v Jumpzone Leisure UK Ltd [2015] EWCA Civ 586
Reasonable Foreseeability – General Damages – Judicial College Guidelines

Court of Appeal: Tomlinson, Kitchin and Gloster LJJ

24 March 2015

Summary
The court dismissed an appeal by the defendant against a finding of negligence for releasing a customer from their ride without warning, causing an arterial dissection.

Detail
At trial, the claimant was awarded £17,000 in general damages for personal injuries and £8,616.34 in special damages plus interest and costs. The defendant had been negligent in the operation of their ride, ‘The Hyper Jump’ on Brighton beach on 4 August 2008. The claimant was released into the air without warning and the force applied to his neck in the process caused him to suffer an arterial dissection and thus permanent impairment to his vision.

The defendant appealed the decision on liability and quantum on the grounds that (1) it was not reasonably foreseeable to an operator of the ride that a customer would be caused injury by being released without warning while his head was down and (2) the assessment of damages was excessive.

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On the first ground, the Court of Appeal found that the trial judge was perfectly entitled to conclude, on the evidence before her, that it was reasonably foreseeable that an injury would be caused if a customer was launched on a ride without warning. Contrary to the defendant’s submissions, the trial judge took proper account of the evidence before her, including the guidance provided by the manufacturers of the ride, supportive expert evidence, the defendant’s own guidelines and practice relating to operating the equipment. Findings of fact would not be interfered with. This aspect of the appeal was dismissed.

In relation to the second ground, the court reasserted in no uncertain terms that the Judicial College Guidelines are guidelines only, and are not intended to fetter a judge’s discretion about the appropriate award in a specific case. At trial, the claimant was awarded £12,000 for pain, suffering and general loss of amenity plus an additional £5,000 to compensate for the considerable inconvenience of being unable to drive a car for two years. This was considered to be a perfectly reasonable assessment of damages, even though it fell outside the upper bracket in the guidelines. This aspect of the appeal was also dismissed.

Comment
The Judicial College Guidelines are guidelines only and a judge is entitled to award above the bracket given, depending on the case’s specific factual matrix.

Summarised by Adam Dyl and Louise Taylor, Anthony Gold Solicitors
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