2 min read

Is breach of a statutory duty evidence of negligence?

Read more

By Cassandra Mitchell & David Williams


Published 26 August 2020


The implementation of the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013, s.69, prevents Claimants from pursuing personal injury claims based solely on a breach of statutory duty.  Can a breach of statutory duty be relied on as evidence of negligence in a personal injury claim?  The Sheriff Appeal Court’s judgment in Wright v National Galleries of Scotland of 3 July 2020 considered this question.

The Pursuer suffered injuries as he made a delivery of milk to the Scottish National Portrait Gallery.  The delivery route had been changed, and included the descent of a step.  The Pursuer, who was pushing a cage containing milk bottles, failed to see the step, lost control of the cage as it dropped down the step and suffered injuries.

A key question in the claim related to whether the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 (reg.17, in relation to the organisation of traffic routes) had been breached.  If it had been breached, what was the relevance of that breach following the implementation of the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013, the accident having occurred in 2016?

Confirming that the regulations, whilst not founding a cause of action, remain a source of statutory duties with which employees and occupiers are required to comply, Sheriff Principal M Stephen QC advised that, whilst not adding a separate distinct case to the Pursuer’s case at common law, the regulations inform the Defender and the Court as to the Defender’s duty of care.

Whilst not founding a cause of action, breach of statutory duty may be evidence of breach of the common law duty of care owed by a Defendant / Defender.  Each case will turn on its own facts, but the duties imposed by Regulations should be borne in mind when considering whether a Defendant is in breach of duty.

For more information or advice, please contact one of our experts in our casualty injury team.