Mann v Northern Electric Distribution Ltd: CA 26 Feb 2010

Climb over high fence was unforeseeable

The claimant appealed against dismissal of his claim for damages after suffering very severe injury when climbing onto an electricity substation. He said that the defendant had not satisfied its statutory obligation to fence off the substation. The fencing was a total of 19 feet high, and topped in part by razor wire. The claimant had climbed it by the use of pieces of wood debris nearby. He had in effect created a three tier and precarious wooden climbing structure, which the judge had found to be unforeseeable.
Held: The appeal failed. Whether the supplier has erected a fence high enough to discharge the duty under the regulation will depend on all its surrounding features. However, ‘the height speaks for itself and precludes our interference with the recorder’s finding. As the recorder observed, no amount of security measures will keep out a sufficiently determined trespasser. Thus, for example, no wall, however high, is proof against the trespasser who has brought a ladder of equal height: entry by such means may be foreseeable but it may nevertheless, for other reasons, not be reasonably practicable for the supplier to prevent it. By contrast entry by the means adopted in the present case was, according to the unassailable finding of the recorder, not foreseeable and it was, for that reason, not reasonably practicable for the defendant to take further steps in relation to its wall, even when viewed in the context of its surrounding features, in order to prevent it.’

Wilson LJ
[2010] EWCA Civ 141
Electricity Supply Regulations 1988, SI 1988/1057
England and Wales
CitedEdwards v National Coal Board CA 1949
A regulation encompassed a requirement to take specified action, so far as it is reasonably practicable, in order to prevent danger. Asquith LJ discussed the term: ”Reasonably practicable’ . . seems to me to imply that a computation must be made by . .
CitedAustin Rover Group Ltd v Her Majesty’s Inspector of Factories HL 1990
The relevant factors in the phrase the words ‘so far as is reasonably practicable’ are the foreseeable risk of injury and the cost of the preventive measures. ‘Sections 2 and 3 impose duties in relation to safety on a single person, whether an . .
CitedBaker v Quantum Clothing Group and Others CA 5-Jun-2009
The court considered a request that one of the three judges (Sedley LJ) recuse himself on the grounds of apparent bias. It was a case claiming damages for personal injury in the form of hearing losses incurred at work. Sedley LJ was Hon President of . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Personal Injury, Utilities

Updated: 11 November 2021; Ref: scu.401839