The question of whether trees should be inspected more frequently than every three years was recently considered by the court after a tree fell on a bus driver and left him in a coma for seven days.

As the tree was significantly decayed, Mr Cavanagh successfully brought a negligence claim for £500,000 against the tree surgeon and the council that owned the tree which adopted a three year inspection cycle.

The tree was located next to a bus stop and a busy road so was considered to be in a “high-risk position” due to the risk of damage and/or serious injury. The Court considered that the tree was “on its way to being a high-risk category tree” and that a 3 year cycle was inadequate. Had it been inspected every two years in accordance with the tree surgeon’s recommendations then it is likely the decay would have been noticed and the tree removed before the incident occurred.

This decision highlights the importance of tree owners undertaking more frequent inspections of trees located in high risk areas so as not to breach their duty of care. It is advisable to obtain expert advice and to act on that advice, especially where there is a reasonably foreseeable risk of harm to persons or property.