West Law Report

WEST v WILKINSON & ANR

Posted in Westlaw Reports by mrkooenglish on July 16, 2008

Last Updated: 3:16PM BST 09/07/2008
Court of Appeal (Civil Division)

Buxton, Keene, Thomas LJJ

July 3, 2008

Apportionment – Reasons – Road traffic accidents – Apportionment of liability between parties

FACTS

The appellant (X) appealed against an order apportioning liability between him and the respondent (Y). X had been driving a car towing a caravan when his tyre blew out. He came to a halt, stopping just before a left-hand bend, and put his hazard lights on. Y, who was driving a car, managed to get around the obstruction but braked hard to avoid a collision with an oncoming vehicle. A motor cyclist (M), who was travelling very close behind Y, did not see X’s vehicle and when Y braked, he lost control and fell into the path of the oncoming vehicle. M suffered serious injuries and his pillion passenger was killed. M issued proceedings against X and Y and at a trial for liability it was held that X had been negligent in failing to put out a warning triangle and Y had also been negligent by driving too fast. The judge found that M had been 60 per cent contributory negligent and apportioned liability equally against X and Y. X submitted that the judge had erred in his approach to apportionment. He contended that Y had been grossly negligent in driving too fast whereas he had only failed to use a warning triangle.

ISSUE

Whether the judge had erred in his approach to apportionment.

HELD (appeal dismissed)

Whilst the judge had failed to give any reasons for his decision on apportionment there was no reason to interfere with his decision. If the judge had analysed the two acts of negligence to see whether there was a distinction between them he would have been entitled to conclude there was not. It was clear from his findings on negligence that he took the view that had the warning triangle been placed on the road it might have affected Y and M. If the judge had compared the causative potency of the actions of X and Y he could have concluded that they were equal.

William Audland (instructed by Greenwoods, Knaresborough) for the appellant. John Isherwood (instructed by Beachcroft LLP) for the respondent.

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