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Gary Poll v (1) Raymond Benedict Bartholomew Michael Viscount Asquith of Morley (2) Mary Clare Bartholomew Viscountess Asquith of Morley [2006]

Landowners who owed a duty of care to road users in respect of their trees that abutted the highway were found to be in breach of that duty where a tree had fallen into the road as a result of a combination of a visible structural defect and a concealed fungal defect. Their forestry inspector had not been suitably qualified to be deemed a competent inspector, and if a competent inspector had carried out a reasonable and proper examination on the tree, the fungal defect would, on the balance of probabilities, have been detected.

2 June 2006

In a trial of a preliminary issue arising within a claim for damages for personal injury, the court was required to determine the extent of the duty of care owed by the defendant farm owners (V) to the claimant road user (P). P, a motorcyclist, had been driving on a public highway when he collided with a tree that had fallen from V’s land. P sustained personal injuries and consequential losses as a result. V had been responsible for the maintenance of the tree and employed R, an independent forestry contractor to undertake “drive by” examinations. It was agreed between the parties that the fall had been caused by a combination of a structural defect and an undetected fungal defect in the tree. It was further agreed that the tree had required more than a cursory inspection, and that R was not sufficiently qualified to be deemed a competent inspector. P submitted that if a competent inspector had examined the tree, he would have detected the visible structural defect and appreci...

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