Wombwell v Grimsby Fish Dock Enterprises, Court of Appeal - Civil Division, June 09, 2008, [2008] EWCA Civ 831

Resolution Date:June 09, 2008
Issuing Organization:Civil Division
Actores:Wombwell v Grimsby Fish Dock Enterprises
 
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Case No: B3/2007/2532

Neutral Citation Number: [2008] EWCA Civ 831

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF JUDICATURE

COURT OF APPEAL (CIVIL DIVISION)

ON APPEAL FROM MIDDLESBROUGH COUNTY COURT

(HIS HONOUR JUDGE FOX)

Royal Courts of Justice

Strand, London, WC2A 2LL

Date: Monday, 9th June 2008

Before:

LORD JUSTICE WALLER,

LORD JUSTICE LAWS

and

SIR JOHN CHADWICK

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Between:

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(DAR Transcript of

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Official Shorthand Writers to the Court)

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Mr M Bowerman (instructed by Messrs Newbys) appeared on behalf of the Appellant.

Mr C Williams (instructed by Messrs Berrymans Lace Mawer) appeared on behalf of the Respondent.

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Judgment

Lord Justice Laws:

1. This is an appeal with permission granted by Sir Henry Brooke on 7 December 2007 against the order of HHJ Fox QC made in the Middlesbrough County Court on 17 October 2007, by which he dismissed the appellant's claim for damages for personal injury. The judgment was given after a trial on the issues of liability only.

2. The appellant is now 56 years old. His injuries were most unhappily very serious. They were the result of an accident which happened at the respondent's premises, the Grimsby Fish Docks, on 18 January 2003. The appellant went to the docks that day with a Mr Sean White. The appellant had just bought a boat from Mr White called the Crusader. It was berthed at the North Quay, as was another vessel, the Tokyo, of which more later. The appellant was proposing to sail to the Orkneys were he ran a diving business. He and Mr White met at the docks on 18 January 2003 so that Mr White could hand over various bits and pieces (as it was put) to do with the boat and to take items of equipment aboard. On the quayside, up against a fence and directly opposite the Tokyo, were eight cylinders. They contained Halon gas in liquid form. That is a substance whose manufacture was prohibited by the Montreal Convention of 1987. The cylinders had originally been fixed aboard the Tokyo as part of the vessel's fire prevention equipment. They and the Tokyo belonged to a Mr MacGrashen.

3. However the cylinders were taken ashore during the process of refurbishing the Tokyo. That was about two-and-a-half years before the accident. The cylinders were of a substantial size, about five foot six long and a foot in diameter. On the quayside they were not enclosed or restrained in any way. The gas inside them was under pressure and, as I have said, in liquid form. If discharged it would immediately become gaseous on contact with the atmosphere. Each cylinder had a manual discharge lever and a safety pin. The safety pin is a heavy wire ring fed through an aperture in the discharge lever. The discharge lever could not be operated without removing the pin. The judge was to find (judgment, paragraph 14) that it needed ``not a difficult but a deliberate and determined operation'' to remove the pin. Once the discharge lever was operated the discharge...

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