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.
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.
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!