I would like to thank Grant Evatt for all his hard work.
Court finds The National Trust not at fault after boy was killed by a falling branch
Fri 29th Jul 2011 Personal injury
The High Court has handed down its decision in this tragic case which was viewed as an important test case for landowners who open up their properties to the public.
My colleagues have previously blogged on the progress of the case and one the largest land owners in England. One of The National Trusts properties is Felbrigg Hall in Suffolk which includes the Great Wood, within which they are close to 250 000 mature trees. It is natural woodland, though managed, and is a Site of Special Scientific Interest because of the large stock of ancient trees that it contains. It is often used by School children for outdoor activities.
On the 26 June one group was using the Great Wood when a terrible tragedy unfolded. A group of children were following a trail set by their teacher when it began to rain and they took shelter under one of the trees which was probably 160-180 years old. Without warning a large branch fell from the trees and onto the group. An eleven year old boy was killed and three other children suffered fractures and serious injury.
The claim was bought under the Occupiers Liability Act by the children's parents and the mother of the deceased boy on the basis that the tree inspectors of the National Trust had failed to exercise reasonable care in their task.
The court found that the National Trust were not at fault. They had in place an inspection regime and had undertook Risk Assessments. The tree in question (a beech tree) was in a ' medium risk area' which are subject to inspection every two years. The actual tree in question had actually been inspected twice six months earlier.
The court held that the "process of judging the integrity of a tree is an art not a science." The court found that the inspectors used all care to be expected of reasonably competent persons doing the job and the National Trust had given them adequate training,
Spokesman for the National Trust said:
"If this judgment had gone against the National Trust I think it would have meant a lot of landowners, not just our organisation, would have had to think very carefully about opening their land up to the public. But the Judge ruling for the National Trust in no way undermines the great sense of personal tragedy that must be felt and our sympathies are with the families involved."
Our thoughts are with the families of the individuals involved in this accident.
Personal Injury team
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