Ladbrokes' betting shop in Walsgrave Road, Coventry was robbed by two masked and armed men one evening in November 2007. Kerry Nicholls, then 18, was working in the betting shop and claimed to suffer psychiatric injury as a result of the episode. She sued Ladbrokes for breach of statutory and common-law duties to ensure that the premises were sufficiently secure, specifically in failing to keep the front door locked by operating the magnetic lock which was fitted to it. Ladbrokes 'strongly denied' the allegations, countering that Nicholls had herself breached safety procedures set out in a company manual. The trial judge found for Nicholls, 'strongly criticising' the conduct of the defence and its reliance on evidence which was 'biased and unreliable'. Ladbrokes had failed to carry out a risk-assessment for the betting shop, establish a satisfactory policy on use of the magnetic lock, require the lock to be used or provide adequate lighting over the front door that would have allowed staff to see who was entering the premises. These failures were the probable cause of the claimant's injuries.
'Aggrieved' by these findings, Ladbrokes appealed: Nicholls v Ladbrokes Betting & Gaming Ltd,  EWCA Civ 1963. Appeal allowed in the Court of Appeal, with one judge dissenting. Jackson LJ, dissenting, thought the trial judge had applied the correct standard of care and agreed that the conduct of Ladbrokes' defence had been 'inappropriate'. The other two justices agreed with much of what Lord Justice Jackson said about Ladbrokes's conduct in defending the claim, but ultimately concluded that the trial judge did not have adequate factual grounds for his conclusions, especially as they related to the magnetic lock. 'A risk of robbery coupled with the ability to operate a magnetic lock is not a sufficient basis for saying that it should be operated', especially given that this betting shop was not located in an area where the risk of robbery was enhanced. It was not within the ambit of the employer's duty of care to have put in place a policy requiring the use of a magnetic lock during the hours of darkness.