On appeal the court found that the first instance judge had misconstrued liability under Regulation 4 of the 1992 Manual Regulations. Under this regulation liability could only be established on proof of a causal breach of duty. Although there had been no risk assessment by the defendant, the circumstances of the actual accident had not fallen within the ambit of the risk which the defendant had been required to assess since the claimant had simply misjudged her footing when she had happened to be carrying a few items of post. The only method for preventing the claimant’s accident, namely misjudging her footing, was to prevent her from using the staircase. The court concluded this was unrealistic.
Although the burden is usually on the employer to show why there is a failure to assess risk, this is not the case when there is no causal link between the accident and the risks generated by the operation in question.
Claimants must prove a causal connection between the accident and any breach of duty by their employer – the lack of a risk assessment is not enough by itself to establish liability.
Joseph Carr and Amy Wedgwood, Anthony Gold Solicitors