Patricia Gibson v Jobcentre Plus [2012] – Court of Appeal

The Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal of a claimant against the decision that her claim for repetitive strain injury was statute barred under s11 Limitation Act 1980. The Claimant was deemed to have knowledge for the purpose of s14 LA 1980 12 years before proceedings were issued.

The Claimant was employed by the Defendant. In September 2006 she claimed damages for repetitive strain injury which she said she sustained as a result of her work.

She claimed she developed symptoms from 2003.

The Jobcentre opposed the claim on the basis that it was statute barred under s11 Limitation Act 1980 and that in any event there was no relevant breach of duty to have caused such an injury.

The Defendant relied on a number of medical reports which confirmed that she had experienced symptoms from 1998 which could all be attributed to RSI. This was also agreed in the joint report.

At trial, the Claimant claimed that her symptoms from 1998 onwards were separate and different to those that developed on 2003. This was supported by the Claimant’s expert on oral evidence.

The Judge at first instance rejected this and said that the Claimant had requisite knowledge under s14 Limitation Act 1980 i.e. of significant injury, before September 2003 and therefore her claim was statute barred by s11.

The Claimant appealed.

On appeal the Court found that there was overwhelming evidence of relevant and persistent symptoms over many years which did not support the Claimant’s case that a new condition emerged in 2003.

The Court said that there may be conditions of which the Claimant was aware earlier which were different to the subsequent condition on which the claim was brought in this case, however the Claimant’s symptoms and condition were clearly connected.

As such, the Court of Appeal agreed with the judge at first instance and dismissed the appeal.

In any event it was found that the Claimant had not proven that her injuries were caused by any breach of statutory duty or negligence on the part of the Defendant.