Case - Vodden v Gayton

[2001] PIQR P4, Queen's Bench Division - Jane McNeill QC

The claimant sustained injuries caused by a fall from her moped on a field track owned by the defendant. The claimant had a private right of way over the track. She brought a claim under the Occupiers' Liability Act 1984 , contending that the accident was due to the condition of the track. The claimant stated that her husband had offered to repair the track prior to the accident, but that his offer had been refused by the defendant. The defendant asserted that the track's condition was reasonable given the circumstances and its location, and denied that he had refused the claimant permission to repair it.

HELD: refusing the claim, that the relationship between the claimant and the defendant was that of owners of a dominant tenement and servient tenement. As the resident owner, the defendant exercised extensive control over the track and was an occupier in terms of the Act, even though the claimant also had a degree of control over it, such that she owed a duty to her own visitors, Wheat v E Lacon & Co Ltd [1966] A.C. 552 applied. On the facts, however, the track had not deteriorated to such an extent that a reasonable person would have found repairs to be necessary. Occupiers would be faced with an excessive burden if they owed a duty to visitors to fill in potholes similar to those in the track at the time of the claimant's accident.        

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