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Latest Keoghs win dials up Robinson precedent for the hospitality industry

Blogs21/10/2019

Following the groundbreaking decision in Robinson v Bourne Leisure, a new judgment in the recent case of Klimcke v Bourne Leisure has re-affirmed and built on that decision to lay further foundations for future defences against slip claims in a hospitality setting.

In this case, the claimant stated she slipped on a wet patch in the restaurant area of a holiday centre, injuring her ribs and chest. 

The Keoghs position in defending the case was that there was no direct evidence of a slipping hazard and, if the court found otherwise, the defendant also had a reasonable system in place for responding to spillages.

In making a decision, the judge referred to both Robinson v Bourne Leisure and Ward v Tesco. Prior to the Robinson decision, Ward was commonly used by claimant solicitors to establish a position which placed liability firmly with the defendant.

In his judgment, DDJ Hallet agreed with the defence that there was no evidence of a spillage. However he also reaffirmed the findings of Robinson, stating that, had there been a slipping hazard, the circumstances of a public venue where members of the public are buying and carrying drinks from a bar, does not correlate with Ward v Tesco which was a yoghurt spillage in a supermarket.

Importantly DDJ Hallet went a step further in his judgment, suggesting that, not only are the disparate circumstances of Ward and Robinson an important differentiation, but, in the case of bar spillages, it would be very difficult if not impossible to deal with every small spillage where drinks are being carried to and from a busy bar, regardless of the system the defendant had in place.

Hospitality and Leisure Practice Lead for Keoghs Corporate & Sector Risks, David Scott, was delighted with both the decision and the new clarification, saying;

“Whilst the evidence in this case was sufficient in itself to dismiss the claim, there’s no doubt DDJ Hallett’s judgment provides a new layer of defence following Robinson. The assertion that a bar cannot monitor and instantaneously deal with every instance of minor spillage is an important one, arming the leisure sector even further for future slip defences.”