Moira Brown v. Lakeland Ltd, 22 June 2012- Occupiers’ liability

Outer House case concerning an alleged breach of duty under the Occupiers’ Liability (Scotland) Act 1960 at Lakeland’s store on Hanover Street in Edinburgh. Miss Brown argued that a two-fold failure by Lakeland to install a handrail and to signpost an existing alternative exit on George Street (which had a ramp and handrail) resulted in her falling down a flight of stairs at the Hanover Street exit.

Whether or not Lakeland had breached its statutory duty depended on whether it had been negligent. The question for the court was whether Lakeland had done or omitted to do something which had, as its reasonable and probable consequence, injury to others. This was a matter of fact and circumstance. Consideration was given to the knowledge and magnitude of the risk and the practicality and effectiveness of preventative measures.

Lord Woolman found that Lakeland had not been negligent. As regards knowledge of the risk, it was noted that there had been no history of accident amongst perhaps 3 million persons to have visited the store. In relation to magnitude of the risk, there was no risk of falling far (Miss Brown had fallen four or five steps). With regard to practicality of preventative measures, Lakeland had already established a disabled entrance (on George Street) which complied with the relevant legislation and had taken steps to bring its existence to the notice of customers. As to effectiveness of preventative measures, there was no evidence that, had Lakeland installed a handrail at the Hanover Street entrance, it would have prevented Miss Brown’s accident. Further, Lord Woolman also took account of  the expert evidence of two architects which indicated that it was unclear whether planning permission would have been granted for a handrail.

The full judgement is available from Scottish Courts here.

All of our property and conveyancing case summaries are contained in the LKS Property and Conveyancing Casebook here.

Tags: ,

Comments are closed.