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Articles | Thu 14th Feb, 2019
Ian Stebbings successfully defends Iceland Foods in a claim by a child that she sustained injury after being struck by an automatic opening door.
The Claimant, a child aged 6, brought a claim under the Occupiers Liability Act, alleging that she had been struck by an automatic opening swing door in the entrance of the store whilst attending with her mother. This had caused various soft tissue injuries to arms and legs.
The claim was defended on the basis that the defendant had done everything to keep the child reasonably safe whilst on the premises.
The doors had been installed and maintained to British & European standards.
The Claimant raised issues that there should have been audible warning and signs designed for children to understand as opposed to written ones
In his full and extensive judgment, DJ Kemp found that inspections of the equipment had taken place shortly after the accident and no fault found with the doors. That a recognised test ‘the box test’ had been carried out and no fault found. The fact that there was no other reported accidents despite a high volume of footfall was a crucial factor.
The judge quoted from a case cited in the skeleton argument of Defence Counsel when McCombe LJ said in the case of Edwards v London Borough of Sutton  EWCA Civ 1005 ‘ not every accident ( even if it has serious consequences) has to have been the fault of another; and an occupier is not an insurer against injuries sustained on his premises’.
The judge also applied the principles from Simkiss v Rhondda BC  1 WLUK 567 in that where a danger is familiar and obvious that an occupier is entitled to assume that parents of children in the area have taken the precaution of warning the children of the danger. An occupier is under no higher duty than a prudent parent.
The judge also found that the mother had turned her attention elsewhere albeit for a split second.
The judge found that on the facts that the Defendant could not have done more.
Audible warning would have been more of a nuisance than assisting since it would have been constantly going off due to the heavy footfall and that child warning signs would have been impractical since persons do not look for such signs.
The judge found that this was clearly on the facts just an accident and that there was no breach by the Defendant
The claim was dismissed.