Robert Golin successful for amateur golfer

Published: 29/07/2015 | News

Robert was instructed by Plexus Law on behalf of the Defendant, an amateur golfer, who caused damage to a car when he mishit his drive on the 14th hole. His ball started relatively straight but faded to the right, over a hedge and onto a road, where it landed on the bonnet of the Claimant’s moving car.

Robert argued, relying on the leading “golfer” negligence case of Pearson v Lightning [1998] EWCA Civ 591, that foreseeability of damage goes to both: (i) the existence of a duty of care; and (ii) whether that duty has been breached. Robert submitted that: (i) the Defendant owed no duty of care to the Claimant, as the risk of damage was so small as to be unforeseeable; and (ii) in any event, there had been no breach of duty on the Defendant’s part.

Under cross-examination, the Claimant accepted that:

  • she had been driving towards the 14th tee;
  • therefore, when the Defendant struck the ball, her car had been “out of range”;
  • the impact had only happened because she had driven “into range” as the ball flew through the air;
  • had she driven slightly faster or slower, the car would not have been positioned at the bottom of the golf ball’s parabola;
  • she had not been visible from the tee when the ball had been struck;
  • she would not have been able to hear any warning cry of “fore!” from the Defendant, even if he had shouted.

While the judge found that the damage was foreseeable and, therefore, that there was a duty of care (which is questionable given the Claimant’s evidence as set out above), the claim was dismissed on the basis that there had been no breach of duty. The Defendant had aimed straight, he had hit the ball when no traffic was nearby and the Defendant’s standard of care had not fallen below that of the reasonable man.

Author: Robert Golin Farrars (