Young v Kent County Council  EWHC 1342
Tort law – Negligence – Occupiers’ Liability
The claimant fell through a skylight whilst on the roof a school building which was accessed by pipework on the exterior of the building. This had occurred at a time when a youth club was using the school premises. There was a Health and Safety Executive report completed on the skylight that had indicated that it was brittle. The claimant argued that the council was liable under the Occupiers’ Liability Act 1984. It was reasonable to assume that children might have been in the vicinity of such danger and the area could have been simply fenced off to prevent such danger.
The court was required to understand whether the council was at fault for not following the health report and doing very little to prevent the harm that was sustained to the child in the course of events. This had to be balanced with the blame that would be assigned to the child for climbing on to the roof where he should not have been.
The court found in favour of the claimant and held that the council was liable under the Occupiers’ Liability Act 1984. It was held that the state of the premises was inherently dangerous, particularly to a child and posed a danger due to the brittle nature of the skylight. Importantly, it was held that if the claimant had not been a child, the claim would not have been successful. The school was negligent in not carrying out a risk assessment on the area and not fencing the area off. It would have been low cost to find a solution to the problem. The court held that the claimant was equally to blame and was therefore attributed 50% of the blame.