Donald Macleod (a Protected Party by his Litigation Friend Barbara Macleod) v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis (2015)

The commissioner appealed against the decision that personal injuries suffered by the respondent in a road traffic accident were caused by the negligence of a police driver.

The respondent had been cycling home when he was hit by a police car responding to an emergency call. The dispute centred on the direction from which the respondent had approached the junction. The judge found the evidence of two of the independent witnesses to be reliable and compelling. The judge concluded that the respondent was cycling from the south when he was hit from behind by the police car. The police car had been driving too fast, without the degree of care and skill which would have been reasonable in the circumstances.

The commissioner submitted that the judge had erred in making findings of fact against the weight of the evidence and rejecting the possibility of an alternative scenario, based on the expert evidence.

HELD:

The judge had been entitled to rely on the evidence of the two independent witnesses. The inference he drew that the respondent had approached the junction from the south was a very powerful one. The judge was not obliged to accept the expert evidence; he was entitled to apply his common sense and experience when evaluating the totality of the evidence. The commissioner's appeal was on the facts. Where a trial judge had reached a conclusion on the primary facts, it would be only in a rare case, such as where that conclusion was one which (a) was based on a misunderstanding of the evidence; or (b) no reasonable judge could have reached.

The commissioner had failed to make out any such objection to the judge's findings of fact. There was ample evidence which the judge had fully understood and on which he could properly rely to make his findings.

Appeal dismissed.

Albert Carder v (1) Secretary Of State For Health (2) University Of Exeter (2015)

The claimant sought damages from the second defendant on the basis that his asbestosis was attributable in part to negligent exposure to asbestos while in the second defendant's employment.

The claimant was 85 years old and had worked as an electrician and had been negligently exposed to asbestos by a number of employers, including the second defendant. He had developed asbestosis and also suffered from unrelated conditions which affected his lung function.

The evidence was that his asbestosis was gradually increasing and contributing to his disability and that it increased his risk of lung cancer. He sought provisional damages under the Senior Courts Act 1981 s.32A.

The claim proceeded solely against the second defendant. It was accepted that asbestosis was a "divisible" disease and that each source of exposure would have contributed to the development of the claimant's asbestosis in approximate proportion to the dose received. The contribution attributable to the second defendant was 2.3 per cent of the claimant's total exposure. The medical evidence indicated that this proportion had made no discernible difference to the Claimant’s condition. In reliance on this evidence, the Second Defendant argued that its negligence had not resulted in an actionable injury.

HELD:

The question was whether the Claimant had suffered real damage and was worse off to a degree that was not so trivial that a claim in damages was not justified. Although a 2.3% contribution was small, it was not de minimis. Asbestosis is a divisible disease and each source of asbestos exposure contributes in proportion to the overall condition. The Second Defendant’s contribution to that exposure caused the Claimant to be worse off physically, even if not in a way that was noticeable or measurable. Accordingly, the Claimant had suffered actionable damage. The Second Defendant was therefore liable for 2.3% of the Claimant's damages, which were assessed at £67,500 on a provisional basis.