Court of Appeal rules out claim against home contents policy.
Fears that insurers could be forced to tighten the terms and conditions of their home contents and leisure policies insurance were eased last week in the Court of Appeal
The court ruled that defendants Timothy and Catherine Perry were not in breach of their duty of care when a bouncy castle accident left a teenager brain damaged.
Thirteen-year-old Samuel Harris of Spalding, Lincolnshire, suffered a broken skull when he was kicked in the head by a 15-year-old during a party in Strood, Kent, in 2005.
In May this year a High Court judge ruled that the Perrys, who hired the castle for their children’s party, had not provided enough supervision and awarded the claimant damages of £1m. The Perrys were insured for the cost under their home contents cover.
Commenting on the ruling, James Shrimpton, a partner with Davies Lavery, said: “This decision will be greeted with relief by those involved in organising children’s activities where there is a risk of injury and by their insurers.
“The court taking a more pragmatic approach to this court case means that people in a duty of care can be confident that just because there has been a nasty accident people will not automatically be in breach of that care and that there will be scope to defend.”
The case, which was heard at the Court of Appeal in under three months, was of particular importance as it illustrated the level of duty of care that could be expected and under what circumstances individuals and the wider public are responsible for injury.
At the conclusion of the judgment, Master of the Rolls Lord Phillips stated: “We have given our reasons at some length, but to a large extent a case of this nature properly turns on first impressions.
“The issue is whether a reasonably careful parent would have acted in the same way as the defendant.
“Each of us had the same reaction to the facts. The manner in which she was supervising activities on the bouncy castle and the bungee run accorded with the demands of reasonable care for the children using them.”
It is understood that Samuel Harris will be seeking to appeal to the House of Lords.