Simon McCann and Pascale Hicks were respectively instructed to defend a local authority and an amateur football team against allegations of negligence and breach of duty arising from the alleged state of a pitch.
The Claimant, who was 16 at the time, suffered what the Judge described as an “horrendous” break to the leg. He had been playing in an amateur game when he was injured. During the course of the game, he was involved in a shoulder-to-shoulder challenge, and lost his balance. He claimed that, as he tried to regain his balance, his foot went into a pothole in the pitch, and that his leg snapped as a result. His case was worth in excess of £250,000.
The case was defended on the basis that (a) there was insufficient evidence of any defect, and (b) both the local authority (who owned the pitch), and the club (who hired the pitch) had reasonable systems of inspection.
The Judge found that there was no defect, and that, in any event, a system of bi-annual inspections by the Council, and pre-game inspections by the Club and the referee, were sufficient to show that there was no breach of the duty imposed by the Occupiers’ Liability Act 1957.
The case - one of notably high value - shows that the Courts remain reluctant to extend the boundaries of liability in Sports Injury cases, even when there is a great deal of sympathy for the Claimant.