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Uren and (1) Corporate Leisure (UK) Limited and (2) Ministry of Defence

Following a successful appeal by the claimant, in Uren and (1) Corporate Leisure (UK) Limited and (2) Ministry of Defence [2013] EWHC 353

(QB) Foskett J was directed to consider 2 questions by the CA in a case involving a claimant who had been rendered tetraplegic when he dived headfirst into an inflatable swimming pool on an RAF fun day out: (1) the degree of risk of serious injury entailed in the game as played on the day of the claimant’s accident; and (2) whether that degree was acceptable in the light of the social value of the game. The game involved running up to the pool, getting in over the side, grabbing a piece of plastic fruit, carrying it out of the pool and depositing it in a bucket, all against the clock. The “drop” on entering the pool was 1 metre. C was aware of the depth of the water and had already been in the pool that day. 

In finding for the claimant, Foskett J emphasised: 


  • This was not an accident that took place in a swimming pool and should not be viewed as a “swimming pool accident” case. 
  • The “pool” was not manufactured or intended for the way in which it was used on the occasion of the accident. It was manufactured to be filled with balls, not water. 
  • The claimant was doing nothing different from what about half of the participants did. 
  • This was a well organised event with responsible participants. 
  • This event was of great social value. 
  • This case succeeded simply because the risk assessments were “fatally flawed”. No-one foresaw the obvious risk associated with headfirst entry into the pool and no warning had been given prior to the game. If the risks had been properly assessed, steps would have been taken to eradicate the real risk of serious injury without spoiling the particular game or diminishing its social value. For example, by stipulating that the challenge was to get into the pool without going headfirst, and that entering headfirst would result in disqualification. 

Provided such games are fully and carefully risk assessed, it will be a rare case in which a claim for injury sustained will succeed if a proportionate and sensible response is taken to any real risk identified, including the giving of appropriate warnings.

/ 1st Mar 2013


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