Insurance reform group cheers CCTV ruling in personal injury case

Ruling came in case where Supermacs admitted that a chair was damaged prior to an incident

The High Court decided the only purpose that would be served by handing over the CCTV footage in advance of the plaintiff giving evidence and undergoing cross examination was whether the assertion that they fell to the ground was correct. Photograph: Chris Maddaloni/Collins

The High Court decided the only purpose that would be served by handing over the CCTV footage in advance of the plaintiff giving evidence and undergoing cross examination was whether the assertion that they fell to the ground was correct. Photograph: Chris Maddaloni/Collins

 

The Alliance for Insurance Reform has welcomed a High Court ruling in support of a refusal by fast food group Supermacs to hand over CCTV footage to a plaintiff suing in a personal injuries case.

The ruling came in a case where the restaurant admitted that a chair from which the plaintiff claimed to have fallen and injured herself was damaged prior to the incident.

The High Court upheld an earlier decision of the Circuit Court, which had been appealed by the plaintiff.

The High Court decided the only purpose that would be served by handing over the CCTV footage in advance of the plaintiff giving evidence and undergoing cross examination was whether the assertion that they fell to the ground was correct.

The CCTV material being sought by way of discovery went “exclusively to the issue of the plaintiff’s credit”.

Peter Boland, director of the Alliance for Insurance Reform, said the data protection law, and the laws in relation to public and employer liability, are “sometimes at odds with each other, and in this particular case they were at odds”.

The alliance was aware of many similar cases, where liability was not an issue and a plaintiff had got access to CCTV footage prior to setting out their version of events in a sworn affidavit.

In some instances, people made data access requests to get CCTV footage and then made their claims for personal injury.

“This is a source of great frustration to members who feel that the cases are being built around the CCTV footage.”

‘Landmark judgement’

Pat McDonagh, the founder of Supermacs, said the High Court judgment was a “landmark judgment”. He wondered why it was that Supermacs had to take the case when there were “all these insurance companies that are dealing with cases like this, week in, week out, all across the country”.

Neil McDonnell, chief executive of the small and medium-sized businesses organisation Isme, said it believed that the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner took too much of an “absolutist position” in relation to data access rights in situations where the data was held by a body being sued.

He would like to see the matter being “straightened out. There is no need for people to get access to their CCTV footage, prior to swearing their affidavit”.

The competing rights of the parties need to be weighed up, he said. “You can’t have an absolutist right to data. The system is really gamed now, and the data protection laws are being used to do it.”

In a recent letter to the Data Protection Commission, he said Isme does not believe it fair that a defendant should have to comply with a data access request when the person suing has not yet complied with their obligations in relation to swearing an affidavit under the Civil Liability and Courts Act 2004.