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Defendants owed duty of care to plaintiff who suffered assault following ejectment from convenience store

By: Ian Fitzharris BL

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Court of Appeal, dismisses defendant store owner and security company's appeal against an award of damages made by the High Court in the plaintiff's favour by reason of personal injuries suffered by the plaintiff following an assault outside a convenience store from which the plaintiff and others had been ejected, on the grounds that: (a) the defendants owed a duty of care to the plaintiff to protect him from danger to which he had been exposed (by the defendants) by his ejectment moments prior to the assault taking place; (b) the defendants knew the plaintiff to be an innocent party at the time of the ejection; (c) the chain of causation was not broken by the fact of the assault having been inflicted upon the plaintiff by a third party; and (d) the defendants could not rely upon a failure by the plaintiff to obtain a Personal Injuries Board authorisation enabling it to issue proceedings against one defendant where same was not pleaded by way of a defence to the action from the outset.

Personal injuries - assault on public footpath outside store - appeal against finding of liability - whether defendants owed plaintiff a duty of care - whether defendants in breach of a duty of care in failing to re-admit plaintiff to premises - whether injuries foreseeable - whether a novus actus interveniens broke chain of caution by virtue of a criminal act of a third party - whether defendants are concurrent wrongdoers and plaintiff guilty of contributory negligence - facts of injuries - bystander usually under no legal duty to intervene so as to protect third party from harm - scope of duty of care in particular circumstances owed by convenience store owner - existence of a special relationship - liability for damage inflicted by a third party - defendant's relationship with the risk of harm - operative breach of duty was one of omission - ejectment occurred when defendant had knowledge of certain factors relevant to danger towards plaintiff - liability for damage produced by the 'state of affairs' that resulted from the defendants' negligence - whether it is just and reasonable to impose a duty of care - duty to take reasonable steps to protect an innocent person from a danger which the defendants had themselves brought that person - allowing readmission to premises was a reasonable step to be expected - causation findings of trial judge - does not matter who eventual assailant was in circumstances where the defendants owed a duty to protect plaintiff from harm arising from disordered provoked by assailants - judgment obtained against concurrent wrongdoer - failure to raise defence any issue in relation to a failure to obtain an injuries board authorisation - authorisation goes towards an issue of a defence to an action, not jurisdiction.

Note: This is intended to be a fair and accurate report of a decision made public by a court of law. Any errors should be notified to the editor and will be dealt with accordingly.

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