Wicklow National Park, Glendalough fall

In May 2002 David Lynskey, a 29 year-old bricklayer, was walking along the roadway in Wicklow National Park, Glendalough, a site managed by VSCG member, the National Parks & Wildlife Service.

As he approached a section of ground adjacent to the roadway where a number of stakes and rope had been erected two Range Rover vehicles and an ambulance going to a mountain rescue came towards him. He stepped off the roadway onto the adjacent verge. As he did so, the ground began to subside beneath him. Mr Lynskey lost his footing and grabbed one of the stakes to try and steady himself. But the stake gave way and he fell, injuring his foot.

The plaintiff, Mr Lynskey, was deemed to be a recreational user under the Occupier’s Liability Act 1995.
The question was whether the defendant breached his duty not to act with reckless disregard. The verge had been roped off by the National Parks & Wildlife Service following a land slip during very heavy rainfall three months previously. The rope had remained in place to allow the subsidence to settle.

The Judge in summing up said it was clear that the subsidence had occurred, and that the area had been cordoned off, and that the plaintiff was aware of it. He said that in his opinion, no occupier is obliged in law to guard or protect against every conceivable danger that may exist on their premises.

He further said that he was not satisfied that the plaintiff had succeeded in overcoming the high evidential burden that Section 4 of the Occupiers Liability Act imposes and accordingly he dismissed the plaintiff’s action.

The Judge essentially found that the defendant had not failed in his duty of care. The failure of the stake to buffer the plaintiff against his fall did not constitute reckless disregard by the defendant for the safety of the plaintiff’s person.

Lynskey v Minister for Arts, Heritage, the Gaeltacht and the Islands 2006

This case law entry was written by Tom O Keeffe and was published in August 2017

This website entry was last updated on 3 August, 2017

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