Council not liable

The family of a cyclist who drowned in Bristol harbour has lost their claim for £2 million in damages against Bristol City Council. The High Court case in October 2018 surrounded an accident in which a cyclist lost control of his bicycle on metal tracks on the wharf surface which caused him to fall over the edge

The cyclist’s partner alleged that the Council should be responsible because they hadn’t put adequate safety measures including railings. In finding against the claimants, Mark Gargan QC said that there were plenty of warning signs and the risk of falling into the dock was obvious to any cyclist using the route. He concluded, “the law does not require occupiers to provide a risk-free environment, and it expects adults who choose to run obvious risks to take care of themselves”.

This case highlights that if you manage an area with deep water hazard you must ensure that it is obvious, e.g. by displaying warning signs, but fencing the water’s edge may not be required. Each situation is unique so it’s worth taking site-specific advice, e.g. from your insurer or safety advisor.

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