Bouncy castle accident 'not couple's fault'

A couple found liable for an accident on a bouncy castle that left a boy brain-damaged have won their appeal against the ruling.

Sam Harris, now 13, of Spalding, Lincolnshire, suffered a broken skull after a 15-year-old boy kicked his head while performing a somersault on the castle in September 2005

Lawyers for Catherine Perry who, with her husband Timothy, was in charge of the party attraction, had told the Court of Appeal that her supervision was no different from that of "parents up and down the land".

They argued that High Court judge Mr Justice David Steel applied the wrong legal test to the conduct of Mrs Perry, who was supervising children using the castle, in relation to the conduct of reasonably careful parents in the same circumstances.

The judge ruled, in May, that the Perrys did not provide enough supervision after hiring the castle for their triplets' birthday party in Strood, Kent.

He found them liable for damages - estimated at more than £1 million - for Sam, who now needs round-the-clock care.

Today, Lord Chief Justice Lord Phillips, sitting with Lord Justice May and Lord Justice Wilson, said that Mrs Perry, who went to help another child on another inflatable during the seconds that the accident happened and had her back to the bouncy castle, could not be held at fault for the way that she acted.

"The manner in which she was supervising activities on the bouncy castle and the bungee run accorded with the demands of reasonable care for the children using them.

"The accident was a freak and tragic accident, It occurred without fault."

Sam was 11 when the much taller and heavier boy caught the left side of his head with a heel.

Bringing the case through his mother, Janet, of Long Lane, Gedney Hill, Spalding, Lincolnshire, he sued the Perrys of Jersey Road, Strood, Rochester, Kent.

Allowing the appeal by the Perrys, who were insured, Lord Phillips said that children played by themselves or with other children in a wide variety of circumstances.

"There is a dearth of case precedent that deals with the duty of care owed by parents to their own or other children when they are playing together.

"It is impossible to preclude all risk that, when playing together, children may injure themselves or each other, and minor injuries must be commonplace.

"It is quite impractical for parents to keep children under constant surveillance or even supervision and it would not be in the public interest for the law to impose a duty upon them to do so.

"Some circumstances or activities may, however, involve an unacceptable risk to children unless they are subject to supervision or even constant surveillance.

"Adults who expose children to such circumstances or activities are likely to be held responsible for ensuring that they are subject to such supervision or surveillance as they know, or ought to know, is necessary to restrict the risk to an acceptable level."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
British author Helen Macdonald, pictured with Costa book of the year, 'H is for Hawk'
booksPanel hail Helen Macdonald's 'brilliantly written, muscular prose' in memoir of a grief-stricken daughter who became obsessed with training a goshawk
Sport
footballLive blog: Follow the action from the Capital One Cup semi-final
Life and Style
food + drink
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: Intervention Teacher Required To Start ASAP.

£125 - £150 per day + Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: A 'wonderful primary ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Maths Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Our client is an 11-16 mixed commun...

Recruitment Genius: PHP / Drupal / SaaS Developer

£32000 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A rapidly developing company in...

Ashdown Group: Application Architect/Developer - Peterborough

Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Application Architect/Developer - Peterborough, Cam...

Day In a Page

Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

Homeless Veterans appeal

Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

Front National family feud?

Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century