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Arcade wins compensation from council over pier closure

Posted: 22nd September 2016   In: Dispute Resolution

An amusement arcade has won the right to compensation after a local authority closed a seaside pier because of safety concerns.

The arcade leased premises on the pier. The freeholder was responsible for the repair and renewal of the pier's structure. In 2004, the arcade obtained an engineering survey that revealed serious structural problems requiring urgent attention.

It sent the report to the freeholder and to the local authority, but no remedial work was carried out. In June 2006, the local authority exercised its emergency powers to close the pier to the public because it was unsafe. It was concerned about large numbers of people due to attend events in the pier ballroom.

The arcade attempted to compel the freeholder to carry out the works, and when that failed it carried out the works itself. It then brought a claim against the local authority for compensation.

The court ruled in the arcade’s favour and ordered that compensation should be paid.

The case went all the way to the Supreme Court, which has upheld the decision. It held, among other things, that the matter that led the authority to take emergency action was not the general state of the pier.

The authority had been aware of that since receiving the surveyor’s report but had not thought it necessary to close the pier. The matter which triggered the action in June 2006 was the state of the pier combined with fear of possible collapse from crowd-loading during the forthcoming events.

The arcade was not legally responsible for the state of the pier, nor was it responsible for the events that triggered the authority's action.

Please contact Neil O'Callaghan about the issues raised in this article or any matter relating to litigation and protecting your business.

Posted by: Neil O'Callaghan
Commercial Litigation
Luton Office