Once again, the importance of regular inspections in the defence of sport-related personal injury claims is highlighted in the case Glennie v University Court of the University of Aberdeen  CSOH 71.
Mr Glennie was playing tennis on a tennis court owned by the University of Aberdeen and rented out to the King's College Tennis Club. Mr Glennie was preparing to play a backhand when his left foot slipped from under him. He fell and broke his ankle. Mr Glennie sued the University as owners and occupiers of the tennis court. He said that moss on the court meant that the court was unsafe for play.
There was no dispute that the University were occupiers and owed duties under the Occupiers' Liability (Scotland) Act 1960. The University accepted that if there was sufficient moss on the playing area of the court to cause a player to slip, and if Mr Glennie had slipped on that moss, then they would be liable. However, they disputed Mr Glennie's account of moss on the playing area and of him slipping on it.
This case turned entirely on the facts. The Court heard evidence from a number of witnesses and considered photographs of the court in question. The court also heard evidence from the groundsman regarding the daily inspections of the tennis courts, and considered the records of those inspections.
While the Judge was satisfied that the witnesses did their best to assist the court, they did not agree on the area of the court covered in moss or where exactly Mr Glennie fell.
The Court ruled that the fact that Mr Glennie had slipped did not indicate that there was a problem with the surface of the court. Having considered all the evidence, the Judge decided that Mr Glennie had failed to prove that there was moss in the area where he fell, or that he had slipped on it. The claim was unsuccessful.
This case is a reminder to all sports clubs of the importance of regular inspections and record keeping. It can be difficult for witnesses to recall significant details some time after an accident. Good systems of inspection and record keeping are vital in the defence of personal injury claims.