Appeal by the defendant Transco plc ('T') against the order of Judge Darroch in the Norwich County Court giving judgement for the claimant ('G') in an action for personal injuries against his employer in a sum to be agreed or decided. Judgement was entered in the sum of #211,149. T appealed submitting that the judge had been wrong to have found that (i) the claimant had proved that his PAD had been caused by the use of vibratory tools (ii) the PAD had been caused by excessive exposure to vibration.
HELD: (1) When faced with competing evidence, it was an important part of a judge's task to assess whose opinions were the more reliable. Willingness to change one's opinions in the light of discussion with others and the evidence as it developed could be a sign of strength rather than weakness. (2) The judge who heard expert evidence would be best placed to assess whether they genuinely held those opinions or were vainly clutching at straws to bolster a case. (3) Another factor in deciding between experts was their respective qualifications and experience. (4) On the evidence of the experts in the instant case to the effect that vibratory trauma could 85 to 90 percent probably cause this sort of damage, it would have been surprising if the judge had reached any different conclusion. (5) Bearing in mind the length and magnitude of G's exposure to vibration it was possible to conclude that the injury had been caused by the vibration. Even if the 'but for' test could not be satisfied, there could be little doubt that the employer's failure to have a proper system for detecting and presenting vibration induced diseases materially increased the risk of an employee sustaining such a disease. (6) Once the degree of exposure, the breaches of duty and the medical causation had been established, it would be an unjust legal system which did not hold the employer responsible for what had happened. (7) It would be wrong to disturb the judges conclusion.
Dismissing the appeal.
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