Joseph Thomas Beaumont and Lewis O'Neill v David Ferrer (2016)

Two 17 year old appellants formed a plan with friends to take a taxi from Salford to Manchester city centre and make off without paying the fare. They got into the respondent's taxi and when they reached the city centre, three of them got out of the taxi and ran off without paying. The respondent then drove off, knowing that one of the doors of the taxi was open and that the appellants were not wearing seatbelts. The appellants exited from the taxi as it was moving, fell and sustained serious injuries. The judge dismissed their claim in negligence, holding that they had brought about their injuries themselves.

HELD: 

The respondent had been in breach of his duty of care to his passengers. His choice was either to let the remaining passengers out of his vehicle or to drive them to the nearest police station.

It was entirely understandable that he did not want to lose his fare, but that did not excuse driving off with an open door when the appellants were not wearing their seat belts.

The judge at first instance had been wrong. It was reasonably foreseeable that the appellants would position themselves with a view to jumping out of the taxi. That was all too foreseeable once the plan of the criminal enterprise was put into effect.

As to causation and the ex turpi causa maxim, even it if could be said that the appellants' injuries would not have happened but for the tortious conduct of the respondent, they were in reality caused by the appellants' own criminal acts of making off without payment.

HELD:

There should be no recovery and the appeal was dismissed.

Cristiano Committeri V Club Mediterranee and Generali Assurance (2016)

The Claimant took part in a team building exercise in France which was organised by his London-based employer, BNB. The Claimant slipped and fell while participating in the team building exercise and sustained an injury.

It was agreed between the parties that if English law applied to the claim it would fail because the claim would be governed by the Package Travel Regulations 1992 which required proof of fault on the part of the service provider, which the Claimant accepted he could not establish on the facts. However, if the claim was governed by French law it would succeed because the EU Package & Travel Directive had been interpreted differently by the French courts imposing a straight liability.

The question to be determined by the court was whether the Claimant’s claim under French law was non-contractual/tortious or contractual. If it was tortious (and therefore governed by Rome II) the “choice of law” clause in the booking conditions did not apply and the claim would succeed under French law. If, however, the claim was contractual (and therefore governed by Rome I) the choice of law clause would lead to the application of English law and the claim would fail.

It was held that the claim under the Code was contractual. The contract between the Claimant’s employer and the Defendant conferred benefits on the Claimant by providing him with team building activities and that the obligations under the French implementation of the EU Package & Travel Directive were contractual in nature, and as such were not to be determined in tort.

Hayward V Zurich Insurance Co Plc (2016)

The respondent had injured his back as a result of an accident at work. He claimed that he suffered from continuing serious back pain which restricted his mobility and that his ability to work was seriously impaired.

The insurer of the employer relied on video evidence which showed the respondent undertaking heavy work at home and argued that he had exaggerated the consequences of his injury. The parties reached an agreement under which the insurer agreed to pay £134,973 in full and final settlement of the claim.

About two years later, the respondent's neighbours approached the employer to say that from their observation of his conduct and activities they believed that he had entirely recovered from his injury at least a year before the settlement was reached.

The insurer claimed damages for deceit, asserting that the statements which the respondent had made about the extent of his injury in his particulars of claim and witness statements constituted fraudulent misrepresentations.

At first instance the judge set aside the settlement agreement. The respondent was awarded damages of £14,720 and he was ordered to repay the settlement sum, less that amount.

The Court of Appeal reversed that decision. It held that having asserted the allegations in the claimant's case were dishonestly advanced, and then proceeding to settle the claim, the insurer had implicitly agreed not to subsequently seek to have the settlement set aside on the basis that statements made in support of the claim were false. The insurer appealed.

HELD:

Appeal allowed. The fact that the insurer did not wholly credit the respondent and carried out its own investigations did not preclude them from having been induced by the representations in question. The respondent knew the insurer was settling on a false basis.

Qualified belief or disbelief did not rule out inducement, particularly where those investigations were never going to find out the evidence that subsequently came to light. That depended only on the respondent's neighbours coming forward. Only then did the insurer find out the true position.

The court had also been asked to consider whether a defendant’s suspicion of a claimant’s exaggeration for financial gain would preclude unravelling a settlement when fraud was subsequently established. The court indicated that was difficult to envisage any circumstances in which suspicion that a claim was fraudulent would preclude unravelling a settlement when fraud was subsequently established.

Albert Victor Carder V University Of Exeter (2016)

The appellant, a former employer, appealed against a decision that it was liable to pay damages to the respondent in relation to a personal injury claim.

The respondent had worked as an electrician and had been negligently exposed to asbestos by a number of employers. He developed asbestosis (a divisible disease) and also suffered from unrelated conditions which affected his lung function. He alleged that his condition was attributable in part to negligent exposure to asbestos dust whilst in the appellant's employment. The appellant employer accepted that it was responsible for 2.3% of the respondent's total exposure to asbestos dust.

The appellant conceded that the 2.3% contribution to the asbestosis, although very small, was material. However, it argued that since that contribution had made no difference to the respondent's symptoms and condition, the judge should have held that it did not make him appreciably worse off and therefore made no material contribution to the damage suffered.

The judge found that the respondent had suffered an actionable damage injury and he was awarded damages worth 2.3% of what would have been the full liability value of his claim.

HELD:

Following the appellant's concession that their 2.3% of the exposure was material, the judge had been right to hold that the respondent was slightly worse off as a result of the 2.3% exposure for which the appellant was responsible and the decision at first instance was upheld.

Appeal dismissed.