Tom Bourne-Arton successful in Court of Appeal case Elson v Stilgoe

Published: 03/04/2017 | News

Tom Bourne-Arton has successfully acted for the Defendant/Respondent in an appeal, heard by the Court of Appeal, against the decision to dismiss the Claimant/Appellant’s claim for personal injuries, loss and damage in a road traffic accident


The Appeal concerned a road traffic accident involving a cyclist that was passing stationary and/or slow moving traffic when it momentarily veered into the path of an oncoming vehicle.

The cyclist was travelling with a friend who had passed between the traffic and the Defendant driver’s car immediately prior to the accident, without incident.

The appeal

The Claimant/Appellant brought the appeal under two grounds: firstly, that a finding of fact that the cyclists were riding alongside each other was wrong and against the weight of the evidence; and secondly that, as a point of law, the Judge at first instance failed to consider if the Defendant was in breach of duty for failing to notice the Claimant until immediately prior to the collision. In relation to the second ground one of the Claimant/Appellant’s arguments was that there was a duty upon motorists to modify their driving if a cyclist is on the other side of the road, heading towards them, on the basis that the cyclist might change direction and come into that motorist’s line of driving.

Court of Appeal decision

The Court of Appeal did not make a decision on the first ground as the Judge at first instance had found that even if he was wrong about the positioning of the cyclists he would still dismiss the claim (thereby making the first ground irrelevant).

The Court of Appeal dismissed the second ground upholding the first instance decision on the findings of fact that the Claimant had momentarily veered into the Defendant’s path and that the Defendant driver had been driving perfectly properly in the circumstances of the case. The Court of Appeal did not directly address the argument in relation to the contended for standard of care, as the judge at first instance had accepted there was a duty to consider traffic coming in the other direction, including cyclists overtaking in their lane of traffic, before making various findings of fact that the Court of Appeal did not overturn.

In summary the Court of Appeal upheld the trial Judge’s decision that, in his judgment, the accident was caused by the momentary lapse in judgment by the Claimant/Appellant when he veered into the path of the Defendant/Respondent’s oncoming car, and that the Defendant/Respondent’s driving did not fall below the standard of care required of him.

To read the full judgment, please click here.

Tom is part of the Personal Injury Team.