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PI and Civil Litigation

Law - practice - procedure

Anthony Gold Solicitors , 09 JUN 2015

Woodland (A Protected Party Represented by Her Father and Litigation Friend, Ian Woodland) v Maxwell and another [2015] EWHC 820 (QB)

Woodland (A Protected Party Represented by Her Father and Litigation Friend, Ian Woodland) v Maxwell and another [2015] EWHC 820 (QB)
Negligence - joint tortfeasors - contribution to damages

High Court, Queen's Bench Division

1 April 2015

Blake J

Summary
The claimant sustained a catastrophic injury during the course of a school swimming lesson. The third defendant asked the court for an order that there be 100% indemnity by the insured second defendant with respect to the third defendant’s liabilities to the claimant. The court held that it was not just to order 100% indemnity and ordered the third defendant contribute 1/3 towards the third defendant’s liabilities to the claimant.

Detail
The claimant was injured in a school swimming lesson, at which the second defendant was the pool lifeguard and was insured. The claim against the first defendant had been discontinued as the first defendant was not insured. The claimant proceeded and the third defendant, the local council, were found to have a non-delegable duty of care to the claimant who was awarded substantial damages.

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Pursuant to s 1 Civil Liability (Contribution) Act 1978, the third defendant sought either a 100% indemnity from the second defendant, or in the alternative a contribution of 50%, on the basis that the third defendant had not been personally negligent, that the second defendant was insured and was jointly and severally liable for 100% of the damage caused to the claimant and that, although the third defendant was not an employer of the second defendant, a contribution claim made by an employer who has not been personally negligent could be for 100%.

The court held that the third defendant's personal responsibility to the claimant could not be passed on entirely to another just because there is an insurance company standing behind the other party.

Following Downs v Chappel, the judge looked at the comparative degree of fault and contribution made to the injury by the second defendant and found that the second defendant was 1/3 responsible and therefore ordered that the second defendant should therefore contribute 1/3 to the third defendant’s liabilities to the claimant in respect of both damages and costs.

Comment
A very helpful case which will no doubt be useful is cases involving multiple defendants.

Joseph Carr & Amy Wedgwood, Anthony Gold
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