Duties of Care Imposed on Public Service Providers Must Be Reasonable

Customer safety is a responsibility of any company that provide a public service. The Court of Appeal heard a case relating to an accident on a railway and deemed that safety standards should be reasonable and attainable.

The accident happened on a railway station, when a man who had been drinking alcohol slipped from the platform between two carriages of a train that was stationary. The guard signalled the driver to move the train away and when it did so the man’s feet were run over and as a result meant he had to have a below the knee amputation on his left leg as well as all of his toes on his right foot removed. He claimed that the guard was negligent and attempted to sue the train company for damages. His case was dismissed by the judge.

The guard had informed the court that he had noticed the man earlier but he was away from the platform edge and was leant against a wall. He did a thorough check of the platform before telling the driver to move off. It was accepted that a train on the move would pose a hazard and this was an obvious risk that everyone should notice so it was not necessarily the guard’s responsibility to check the platform, and he had done all that could be expected to fulfil his duty of care resulting in the judge exonerating him completely. The Court added that the duty of care for such service providers must be reasonable enough for them to do their job.