Boy loses case over fall from playground swing

Usaman Ahmed was playing when he fell and partly landed on hard divider beside matting

A three-judge Supreme Court today dismissed the appeal by Usaman Ahmed against the High Court’s dismissal of his case against Longford Town Council over an incident in May 2009 at a children’s public playground in Longford town.  Photograph: Reuters

A three-judge Supreme Court today dismissed the appeal by Usaman Ahmed against the High Court’s dismissal of his case against Longford Town Council over an incident in May 2009 at a children’s public playground in Longford town. Photograph: Reuters

Thu, Jul 17, 2014, 14:29

A young boy who sued for damages over arm injuries suffered after he fell off a swing in a playground has lost his appeal against the rejection of his case.

A three-judge Supreme Court today dismissed the appeal by Usaman Ahmed against the High Court’s dismissal of his case against Longford Town Council over the incident in May 2009 at a children’s public playground in Longford town.

The boy, aged 10 at the time of the incident, had sued through his father, Mohammed Iqbal.

The boy was playing with his siblings at the playground when he fell off a swing and he partly landed on a hard divider on the side of rubber matting to mark the edge of a landing area.

It was alleged the swing was set too low - by some 20mm, or just under one inch -  and this caused him to catch his foot on a downward swing and lead to his fall. It was also alleged the distance from the swing seat to the edge of the rubber matting was insufficient.

The High Court accepted an engineer’s evidence the deviations from accepted standards for such facilities were too minor to require anything be done about them, and it rejected claims of negligence.

Giving the Supreme Court judgment, Mr Justice Frank Clarke ruled there was evidence on which the High Court was entitled to find the 20mm seat height deviation from standard did not cause or contribute to the incident.

It was also open to the High Court to find it could not necessarily be said the boy would probably not have suffered his injuries had the rubber matting area been three inches wider.

In those circumstances, there was evidence to support the High Court’s finding no causal link was established between injuries suffered and the two deviations from standards.

While credible evidence was advanced in support of the boy’s claims, the council also offered credible evidence to rebut those and it was open to the High Court to prefer the council’s evidence, he added.

Having heard submissions on costs from Richard Kean SC, for the boy, and Peter Bland SC, for the council, the judge said the court would make no order for costs of the High and Supreme Court hearings, meaning each side will pay their own costs.

Earlier in the judgment, Mr Justice Clarke criticised the notice of appeal in the case for providing “no clue” as to the basis for appeal or the core issues for determination. The issues were clarified in later submissions, he added.

Lawyers representing those who want to appeal to the Supreme Court need to note the time has long passed when it is acceptable to express grounds of appeal in “such vague and generalised terms that they give no clue as to the true basis on which it is intended to argue that the judgment of the High Court was incorrect”, he said.

While the appeal notice here was “sparse”, the time has also long passed when it could be considered appropriate to draft a notice of appeal which stated each point of a High Court judgment was wrong without giving any real indication why, he added.