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England and Wales Court of Appeal (Civil Division) Decisions
You are here: BAILII >> Databases >> England and Wales Court of Appeal (Civil Division) Decisions >> Trustees of the Portsmouth Youth Activities Committee (A Charity) v Poppleton  EWCA Civ 646 (12 June 2008)
Cite as:  EWCA Civ 646
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COURT OF APPEAL (CIVIL DIVISION)
ON APPEAL FROM THE WINCHESTER COUNTY COURT
HIS HONOUR JUDGE RICHARD FOSTER
Strand, London, WC2A 2LL
B e f o r e :
LORD JUSTICE RICHARDS
SIR PAUL KENNEDY
| TRUSTEES OF THE PORTSMOUTH YOUTH ACTIVITIES COMMITTEE (A CHARITY)
|- and -
WordWave International Limited
A Merrill Communications Company
190 Fleet Street, London EC4A 2AG
Tel No: 020 7404 1400, Fax No: 020 7831 8838
Official Shorthand Writers to the Court)
Mr Christopher Sharp, QC & Mr Christopher Taylor (instructed by Penley's Solicitors) for the Respondent
Hearing dates : 29th and 30th April 2008
Crown Copyright ©
Lord Justice May:
"There can be absolutely no doubt that in February 2002 there were a number of shortcomings in the procedures adopted at the centre which fell below industry good practice at that time. The registration process was inadequate and no steps were taken to ascertain the level of competence of climbers using the facility. This should have been done so as to ensure that appropriate steps were taken, possibly by the operation of a "buddy" system, to ensure the safety not only of the novice climber but also other users at the centre. There was inadequate floor walking and supervision. Importantly no proper risk assessments were carried out. I am also satisfied that if competent risk assessments were carried out then all the shortcomings which had been highlighted by this case should have been rectified. The issue is not whether or not those at the centre have seen the HSE Video "Get a Grip" – the fact remains that this was the best summary available at that time of industry good practice. It is obvious that the practice recommended in the video did not operate at this centre at this time."
One passage in the video advised that thick matting can increase the risk of injury by giving the climber a false sense of safety.
"It is of course understandable that organisations like the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents should favour policies which require people to be prevented from taking risks. Their function is to prevent accidents and that is one way of doing so. But they do not have to consider the cost, not only in money but also in deprivation of liberty, which such restrictions entail. The courts will naturally respect the technical expertise of such organisations in drawing attention to what can be done to prevent accidents. But the balance between risk on the one hand and individual autonomy on the other is not a matter of expert opinion. It is a judgment which the courts must make and which in England reflects the individualist values of the common law."
Richards LJ: I agree.
Sir Paul Kennedy: I also agree.