Ruling by Cherie Booth is overturned

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The Independent Online
A RULING by Cherie Booth QC that a weightlifter was not entitled to damages for injuries he suffered in an accident in a public gym was overturned by the Court of Appeal yesterday.

The Prime Minister's wife, sitting as an assistant recorder at the Central London County Court, had rejected a claim by Marco Akel that the owners of the gym were negligent after a bench press machine collapsed on him.

She ruled in November 1998 that Mr Akel, 38, of Harold Hill, Essex, made an error in not checking the equipment before he used it, and the accident - in January 1993 - was his own fault.

But yesterday, Mr Justice Dyson, sitting with Lord Justice Auld, allowed Mr Akel's appeal over the ruling, saying it was "unfortunate" that Ms Booth had not given full reasons in her judgment. The Court of Appeal said Ms Booth should have explained why Mr Akel's failure to notice the handlebar on the machine was not locked was the sole cause of the accident, which left him with a gashed forehead and injured back and leg.

The appeal judges said the London Borough of Havering, which owned the gym, was as much to blame as Mr Akel, and awarded him 50 per cent of his claimed damages which would be calculated at another hearing.

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