Woman from Wigan wins latest round in the long-running case of ‘walk in a park ruined by exposed tree root’ at the Court of Appeal
Last week, we reported on ‘elf and safety nuts going crackers over Magnum ice cream containing, you’ve guessed it, MILK. Today, we can report the outcome of another ludicrous debacle – that being the case of the woman who fell over a tree root.
Detailed in July 2019 in The Law Society’s Gazette even in an entire article by one Nicholas Dobson devoted to this long-running dispute titled: “What is a highway?,” the story of one Deborah Barlow relates to an incident on the 21st September 2014.
On the date in question, Ms Barlow had visited Abram Park in the Greater Manchester town of Wigan. Whilst walking “along a path” (referenced yesterday by Lord Justice Bean more definitively as “the Path”), she “tripped over an exposed tree root and sustained injury to her shoulder and arm.” Naturally, she plainly subsequently consulted lawyers.
Of what became a saga worthy of Miss Marple’s attentions, Lord Justice Bean continued: “It might be thought that the question of whether she has a valid legal claim against Wigan Metropolitan Borough Council (“Wigan” or “the Council”), the present owners and occupiers of the park, would be a straightforward one. Far from it.”
Subsequently, the matter was put before judges in both the county court and the High Court. Each took different views and whilst at the first Barlow’s claim for damages was dismissed by Judge Platts “since the path in question was not a highway maintainable at public expense” according to Dobson, on appeal Judge Waksman ruled to the contrary.
Yesterday, at the Royal Courts of Justice in London, the matter was considered by Lady Justice Macur, Lord Justice Bean and Lord Justice Singh and the previous judgment was dismissed. Who’d have thought a simple “walk in the park” could have gone from something so innocent to such an almighty mess?
Remember this kids: Beware of those pesky tree roots or you might find yourself, like Deborah Barlow, in a bit of an ‘elf and safety nightmare.