On appeal from: [2014] CSIH 76

The Supreme Court unanimously allowed Ms Kennedy’s appeal concerning expert evidence given at a hearing considering the respondent employer’s liability to carry out the correct risk assessments to protect their employees from harm.

Ms Kennedy was employed as a home carer by the respondents and during a visit to a client on the 18 December 2010, she slipped and fell on an icy path and consequentially injured her wrist.

The Lord Ordinary, relying on expert evidence, found the respondents liable for her injury on the basis that they did not provide her with protective footwear. The Lord Ordinary’s decision was reversed by an Extra Division of the Inner House. Ms Kennedy appealed this decision to the Supreme Court.

Lord Reed and Lord Hodge provided guidance on the assessment of expert evidence of skilled witnesses under Scots Law. They stated the expert witness in this case had experience and qualifications in health and safety and his evidence on factual matters and health and safety practice was relevant and admissible. They concluded the witness’s evidence provided a basis for the Lord Ordinary to determine whether the defenders had suitably and sufficiently evaluated the risks and identified the measures needed to protect health and safety.

In relation to whether the respondent had breached their statutory duties under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 and Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992 (PPE Regulations), the appellant was exposed to a risk of slipping and falling on snow and ice which was obvious and was within the knowledge of the respondents, who had previous experience of home carers suffering such accidents each year. Lord Reed and Lord Hodge stated that no consideration had been given to the possibility of personal protective equipment and the precautions taken, in the form of advice to wear appropriate footwear, did not specify what might be appropriate. As the Lord Ordinary had also highlighted, there were anti-slip attachments available that the respondent could have provided its employees to suitably reduce the risk of home carers slipping and falling on ice. The Lord Ordinary had therefore been entitled to conclude that there had been a breach of the Management Regulations and the PPE Regulations.

Lord Reed and Lord Hodge also agreed that the Lord Ordinary was entitled to conclude the respondent was negligent in failing to provide Ms Kennedy with the attachments and that this failure caused or materially contributed to her accident.


For judgment, please download: [2016] UKSC 6
For Court’s press summary, please download: Court’s Press Summary
For a non-PDF version of the judgment, please visit: BAILII

To watching the hearing please visit: Supreme Court website