UKTC Archive

RE: occupiers liability

Subject: RE: occupiers liability
From: Topher Martyn
Date: Nov 25 2008 10:05:58
Hmm.  Interesting.  My elderly father tripped over an uneven paving slab when 
we were walking last week and hit the ground with quite a thump - reactions 
too slow to break his fall.  He was OK, but it did make me realize that the 
long-term implications for him could have been very serious if he had landed 
differently.  I realize that the LA has a hell of a lot of paving slabs to 
look after, but I suspect that this one had moved due to poor construction 
(no trees, or signs of vehicle damage), but then the potential for serious 
injury for certain sectors of society is pretty big - vastly greater chance 
of tripping than being hit by a branch!  No I don't think we should view it 
as a money-raising opportunity, but, if a person has their mobility 
significantly affected after such a fall, is compensation so out of order?

I also have two small children who fall over all the time.  I'm not bothered 
about them, they bounce.


(Responsible for an Arboretum full of old trees, currently running an 
illuminated event that sees thousands of people walking our paths in the 

-----Original Message-----
From: Jim Quaife [] 
Sent: 24 November 2008 09:56
To: UK Tree Care
Subject: RE: occupiers liability

When the grand fromage of RoSPA said recently that H&S has gone too far and 
has become an embarrassment in many instances, I for one am heartened.
We nearly lost the concept of reasonableness in English law when it was 
"discussed" in Europe about 5 or 6 years ago (maybe longer) and I don't think 
that very many people realised that it was at risk, or the consequences of 
its absence!  Perhaps I should also be heartened that reasonableness 
prevailed in that instance.

What it boils down to is (or should be) common sense.  In actual fact courts 
are reasonable and it is only the outrageous cases that make the press.  If 
you take reasonable precautions a court is unlikely to find that you have 
been irresponsible.

We have a culture of blame and if someone trips over a paving slab on the 
pavement, they are wondering which car they can buy before they've hit the 

We had a claim at a school where a lady fell over a kerb.  The County advice 
was to report it to them and they would pay up - I told the headteacher to 
keep it within the school and we wrote a letter of commiseration but not 
accepting liability (there was a bit more to it that that of course, but the 
whole story is lengthy).

We heard no more.

Whilst I have to offer responsible advice to clients on this sort of thing, I 
steadfastly refuse to be intimidated by bureaucratic zealots, and will 
continue to wave the flag of reasonableness.

With LPAs and clients alike it can boil down to courage and in the case of 
Kew for instance, the risk parameters are decided by their solicitor.  Tony 
mentioned an instance where £3K was paid to a lady hit by a twig that bent 
her glasses!

I really do think that arbs can bring an objective perspective to all this, 
but that also takes courage.


-----Original Message-----
From: Howe, Ron [] 
Sent: 24 November 2008 09:37
To: UK Tree Care
Subject: RE: occupiers liability


I believe the short answer is, that a trespass warning sign is not
enough. Your client, as you know, has a duty of care to ensure that
anyone who might enter their land, legally or not, does not get injured.
If they do, then they could take your client to court. The argument
would be that although they were warned not to trespass, there were no
warnings about the dangers. You must also cater for people that might
not be able to read the signs for whatever reason you can think of ...
the young and careless, old and careless, long sighted, learning
disabled, didn't enter by a sign etc. The best option might be to make
the land inaccessible. Nevertheless, your client would still be liable
if someone broke in and became injured. So a combination of preventing
access and remedial works would be a reasonable combination in
conjunction with signs warning of and at any hazardous structures.


Ron Howe
Planning Tree Officer
Mole Valley District Council
Direct Tel. 01306 XXX XXX

-----Original Message-----
From: paul hughes [] 
Sent: Sat, 22 November 2008 13:50
To: UK Tree Care
Subject: occupiers liability

My client has a woodland with mature trees that are in decline with
ganoderma , HF etc present.
Several people enter the wood uninvited to exercise their dogs bowels
(and legs) but there are clear warnings about trespass in place.
As the estate is an old peoples home with charitable status (including
the woodland) there is little money in the pot for the felling
'necessary'.  I would like to be able to leave those trees deeper into
the wood to a more natural decline dealing with the iffy ones by the
drive and nearby bridle way.
Is a sign about trespass and stating the condition of the trees with a
disclaimer enough to enable us to leave the deeper wood to its own
devices? Or are we still culpable if a trespasser gets squashed?


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