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    Accident Claims Law website

    Every year Local Authorities are sued by individuals in circumstances where the person has been injured on property owned by the Council; for example, the Village Green, the Local Authority Playground and other such locations.  Many such cases are settled.  Many such cases are fought.  Some claimants win but many Claimants lose.

    Village Green

    The Village Green

    The High Court Case of “Lorraine Kirwan Plaintiff –v- Dublin City Council Defendant” (High Court Record No 2007/1976P) is a good illustration of an instance where the Court was not prepared to hold that the Council was liable in negligence/breach of statutory duty to the Claimant and thus was not liable to compensate her.

    Circumstances of Claim

    At about 5 o’clock in the evening on the 13th January 2004, the Plaintiff, who had a number of children and who lived immediately alongside a green area at Rathdrum Road in Crumlin went out to call in her 6 year old child because it was approaching dark and the child’s evening meal was ready.  The Plaintiff went out onto the green area and, in the process of calling the child in and intending to the return to the house, her foot got stuck in a hole in the green area.  The Plaintiff subsequently described the hole to the Court as being about the size of a male 10ft – size 10 shoe.  Getting her foot stuck in this manner caused a twisting response and she suffered a bad fracture of her lower leg.  The issue arose as to whether Dublin City Council was liable.

    It was established that the Plaintiff herself was well acquainted with the particular open green area. She had been brought up in the area.  As a child, she used to play on the area and her children now were obviously regular users of the area.  Members of the local community held events on the area throughout the year.  While it was laid out of as football field it was generally used for recreational activities.  It was maintained and kept in order by Dublin Corporation.  The Corporation had a place in system which ensured that its grass was cut on a regular basis.  The surface was kept cut to a reasonable low level for general recreational use. The general area had to be observed for obstructions and/or material which might cause damage or injury to the tractor and that would include a general observation of the area in advance of lawn cutting.

    The Plaintiff did not see the hole as it was dark at the time.  It was accepted that she clearly would have been concentrating on getting her child in and she didn’t notice or see the hole.

    Courts Decision

    The Court was satisfied that the expectation that the Council should be liable to the Plaintiff in negligence was excessive. The Plaintiff should have know that she was walking in an area where there was reasonably roughly kept grass at reasonable height where various activities went on and where the

    Four Courts, Dublin

    High Court, Dublin

    surface could not ever be presumed to be absolutely level and where there would be a possibility of finding depressions or small holes, such as was present on this particular occasion.  The Court was satisfied that the procedures which were in place by the Defendant ensured, insofar as was reasonable that the area was kept in reasonable and proper and fit condition. It couldn’t operate a system which avoided all holes or depressions being present because it was a general recreational area.

    Likewise, the Court was satisfied that, while the Council owed a duty of care to the Plaintiff under the Occupational Injuries Act 1995 as a recreational user, the evidence did not establish any intention on the part of the Council to cause any damage and nor was there a reckless disregard for the safety of the users of the green area.

    This was simply an unfortunate accident which had occurred.  In those circumstances the Plaintiffs claim was dismissed.


    There is some times an assumption on the part of injured victims that the Council will be liable where there is any defect on their property which results in personal injury. This is not the case.  The Council will only be liable where it is demonstrated to the satisfaction of the Court that it was negligent and/or in breach of statutory duty and more particularly in breach of its obligation under the Occupiers liability Act 1995. Furthermore, the injury to the Plaintiff must have been foreseeable.

    Where a claim is dismissed the Plaintiff will be liable for legal costs. In those circumstances the Plaintiff should ensure to take legal advice prior to considering any such claim.

    Accident Proceedings

    Accident Claims