At a contested trial on liability the Claimant and Defendant gave substantially different accounts of the circumstances of a road traffic accident. There were no other witnesses to the accident. The trial judge felt unable to prefer one account to the other and so dismissed both the claim and the counterclaim. The Court of Appeal held that it would be very rare indeed for a judge hearing a motor accident case to be unable to resolve the issues and find that neither party was able to discharge the civil burden of proof. In this case it was inescapable that the accident could not have occurred without one of the drivers having been negligent. Ordinarily there would be some indication that one account was more likely to be correct than the other. It was incumbent on the judge to analyse the evidence and conclude which of the accounts was the more likely. The Court held that, had he done so, he would have found in favour of the Defendant. Accordingly the Court entered judgment for the Defendant on his counterclaim.
Richard Menzies / 3rd Dec 2003
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