D.I.Y Enthusiasts –Beware!

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Those  who  enjoy  doing  their  own  home  repairs  should  take  stock  of  a  recent  decision  of  the  Court  of  Appeal  reversing the  High  Court   and  finding  a  homeowner  liable  for  repairs  he  had  carried  out  which  ultimately  caused  serious  injury.

Injury
On the 22nd June 2007 aMs.  Newman  lost  the  sight  of  her  right  eye  when  a  glass  panel  in  a  farmhouse  door where she was visiting  shattered  in  an  explosive  fashion   and  one  of  the  glass  shards  went  into  her  eye.

Wrong Glass
The  injured  lady sued  the  owner  of  the  property,   a  farmer,  who  had   himself   replaced  the   glass  when  it had been broken previously.  The glass was ordinary domestic glass suitable for windows but unsuitable and dangerous for use in a door-unlike safety or toughened glass which, if broken, would shatter into smithereens and fall directly to the ground.  There was no dispute that it was the wrong glass.

Lost in High Court
Because  the  owner,  although  a  farmer,  had  previously replaced  glass,  the  High Court dismissed the claim, holding  that he was “a reasonably  competent  amateur  glazier” and not liable simply because a professional glazier would not have chosen the same glass.

Won on Appeal
The Court of Appeal, on the 16thJune 2017, reversed that judgement and held the homeowner liable, finding that there was no evidence in the High Court that the farmer was “a reasonably competent glazier” The Appeal Court held that an occupier of a premises owes a duty to take such care as reasonable in all the circumstances to ensure that a visitor does not suffer injury from a danger existing on the premises.

Warning to DIY’s
The Court held that the door containing the volatile glass was a danger.  It made the distinction between a professional glazier, who would be expected to be aware of the most up to date regulations and standards and the reasonably competent tradesman, who would not necessarily have the most up to date regulations but would have the skill to carry out the job competently and safely.  The farmer, when he changed the glass in the door, had a duty ofcare to do so with the level of care and skill expected of a “reasonably competent tradesman”.
The Court said “whilst many a householder may consider himself or herself capable of performing this type of task, when they do so they assume a duty to all who might subsequently be affected by their actions, to carry out that task with the care and skill that is required to complete the task safely.”
In any event,alwayshave insurance in place in case your handiwork comes a cropper!!

Leave it to the experts – It may work out cheaper!