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Employers not liable for Easterhouse attack

15 March 2006

A TV repairman who was attacked in the street in Easterhouse, Glasgow has lost his claim for damages against his employers.

Service engineer John McGinnes had brought the action against Endeva Ltd, which took over the service operations of Radio Rentals and Granada when those companies merged, after being knifed in the street by two men as he returned to his van from a house call. It was agreed that if his case succeeded, his injuries were worth an award of £40,000.

Mr McGinnes contended that in a known dangerous area such as Lochend Road, Easterhouse, the repair should have been designated as a two man job, or at least that additional assistance should have been available on request. A Radio Rentals employee for 28 years, he claimed that extra help was always provided for specified postcode areas, or could be asked for, but after service requests were all transferred to a call centre in Swindon the postcode system was discontinued.

In evidence Mr McGinnes said he had not asked for help of this occasion because it had not been provided on previous requests. His counsel argued that as the defenders had discontinued the previous system without carrying out a risk assessment, the onus was on them to show that the arrangement they put in its place satisfied their duty of care for Mr McGinnes's safety.

Lord Emslie in the Court of Session rejected this argument. The onus, he said, was on Mr McGinnes to prove that the defenders had failed to provide him with a safe system. There was no history of attacks or complaints of trouble at the location, a main road close to a school; and Mr McGinnes, who knew the area well, was inthe best position to judge whether he should ask for assistance.

The judge also said that it had not been shown how providing an extra man would have prevented the attack which occurred.

Lord Emslie's opinion can be read at http://www.scotcourts.gov.uk/opinions/2006CSOH41.html .