Successfully defending claims against hoteliers arising from falls from windows

My colleague Marc Harries successfully defeated an occupier’s liability claim made by a hotel resident who fell from a first-floor window ledge while smoking cannabis after an evening’s drinking. These types of claims are highly fact-specific and often turn on the precise mechanism of the fall and the quality of the factual evidence.

Although the recent case – Forsyth v Carnforth Hotel – is a County Court decision (and consequently without any formal value as precedent) it serves to illustrate that these types of claim are capable of being resisted and of being distinguished from the decision of the Court of Appeal in 2021 in James v White Lion Hotel. Although also a window fall case, in James the hoteliers had pleaded guilty to breaching health and safety legislation in criminal proceedings prosecuted before the civil claim. That feature was entirely missing in Forsyth.

Marc’s report on the BLM website analyses the decision in detail and we’re very happy to provide a copy of the judgment (which hasn’t been reported) – please get in touch if you would find it useful.

For a copy of the full judgment, please click here.


Written by Alistair Kinley (alistair.kinley@blmlaw.com)

Brief update on legislation in NI to remove Vnuk liabilities from motor insurance

UPDATE 2/3/22: The two not-quite matching Motor Vehicles (Compulsory Insurance) Bills continue to progress. The House of Lords’ scrutiny of the Westminster Bill (which applies to England & Wales and Scotland) is due to start on 18 March. Yesterday, shortly before 6pm, the NI legislation passed the formality of its Further Consideration Stage and may well complete its remaining stages before its mainland counterpart is debated in the Lords in a couple of weeks.

FURTHER UPDATE 7/3/22: The Assembly’s Final Stage debate on the Bill this afternoon lasted barely ten minutes. The Bill was duly passed and it will now take effect after it receives Royal Assent. Just to recap, it ends Vnuk-related liabilities in NI and in so doing avoids annual additional cost estimated at £50 per motor insurance policy.


UPDATE ADDED 22/2/22: Update on Motor Vehicles (Compulsory Insurance) Bill (NI version): it passed Consideration stage on 22 February and Further Consideration will be on 1 March. All remaining stages could be taken during March and, if so, this will become law in May, ending Vnuk liabilities in NI.


The Bill was introduced on 7 February 2022 and published here on the same day. Its policy aims are the same as legislation in Westminster (i.e. to re-set the scope of compulsory motor insurance to that in operation before the Vnuk decision). The NI Bill was back before the Assembly this morning, where Members agreed that it should proceed via Accelerated Passage (AP), a process which requires cross-community support.

The Bill’s second stage debate was also taken and agreed this morning. It now proceeds directly to consideration stage next week – AP means that the Committee stage is bypassed – and looks increasingly likely to be completed within the limited time that remains of the Assembly’s current mandate (given the elections scheduled in early May).


Written by Alistair Kinley at BLM (Alistair.Kinley@blmlaw.com)

NI legislation on Vnuk to be published next week and due to move quickly through the Assembly

Our blogs over the last fortnight have reported on (i) the progress of the Motor Vehicles (Compulsory Insurance) Bill in the Commons and (ii) plans to introduce similar reforms in Northern Ireland.

This morning the Infrastructure Committee of the NI Assembly noted, from written briefing provided by the Department, that the proposed NI legislation “largely mirrors the Bill in Westminster.” The Committee was therefore prepared, albeit reluctantly, to agree to the NI Bill proceeding via ‘Accelerated Passage’ (AP). It will be published and start its progress though the Assembly on Monday 7 February 2022.

Today’s agreement to AP means that the necessary legislative stages can be taken much more quickly than usual and opens the real prospect of this Bill coming into force in the second quarter of the year.


Written by Alistair Kinley, Director of Policy and Government Affairs at BLM (alistair.kinley@blmlaw.com)