Jonathan Harvey v Plymouth City Council (2010). On 17th April 2003, the Claimant, H, had spent the evening drinking with friends, and shared a taxi home.
As the taxi approached their destination H and two friends left the taxi and ran away to avoid the fare; H ran across an open area of grassland owned by the Defendant (P) and fell down a sheer drop into an adjacent car park, sustaining very serious injuries, including brain damage. H made a claim against the local authority under OLA 1957 on the basis that it had been reasonably foreseeable that young people might congregate on that area of land, in some cases under the influence of alcohol, and that H had therefore been an implied licensee who was owed a duty of care under OLA. The Court at first instance found that P ‘could and should’ have foreseen that H could have entered the land, and that it should have taken steps to ensure that when on the land H was protected from the risk of injury by operating a system of checks and maintenance to ensure visitors were not at risk of falling over the edge. On appeal, the ruling was reversed.
The ratio of that decision was that even if H's conduct might have been foreseen by the local authority, foreseeability was not the correct test. In considering whether H was a licensee under the Act, the question was whether his presence had been impliedly consented to by the local authority, not whether the activity might have been foreseen. There was no evidence to support a finding of implied consent to that behaviour; when a local authority licensed the public to use its land for recreational purposes, it was consenting to normal recreational activities (which carried normal risks). Its duty to an implied licensee could not be extended to cover any form of activity, however reckless that activity may be.
/ 1st Nov 2010
The information and any commentary on the law contained on this web site is provided free of charge for information purposes only. Every reasonable effort is made to make the information and commentary accurate and up to date, but no responsibility for its accuracy and correctness, or for any consequences of relying on it, is assumed by any member of Chambers. The information and commentary does not, and is not intended to, amount to legal advice to any person on a specific case or matter. You are strongly advised to obtain specific, personal advice from a lawyer about your case or matter and not to rely on the information or comments on this site. No responsibility is accepted for the content or accuracy of linked sites.
If you like what you've read but want to know more about how we can help you, simply call us:
Alternatively you can send us an email and a member of our team will contact you as soon as possible.