A leading fishery owner has been ordered to pay thousands of pounds in compensation to an angler who claimed to have slipped over and broken his ankle while visiting the venue.
In a case that will set alarm bells ringing throughout the industry, a judge at Leicester County Court two weeks ago awarded 63-year-old Jeffrey Gardner £4,000 in damages after he alleged that he injured himself during a visit to the popular Decoy Lakes in Whittlesey, Cambs, in November 2006.
Pete Band, proprietor of the day-ticket venue, was shocked by the verdict.
“This bloke claims he slipped on a platform when he arrived at the fishery, but then carried on fishing from 9am until 4pm with no apparent ill-effects. It wasn’t until three weeks later that Mr Gardner contacted me to ask if I had public liability insurance, because he reckoned he had broken his ankle.
He didn’t even report the incident in our accident book,” Pete told Angling Times.
“All I can say to other fishery owners is to make sure they have notices warning people about obvious things like ‘wet grass’ and ‘slippery mud,’” added Pete, whose insurance company will meet the payout.
Peterborough tackle shop owner Ken Wade acted as Pete Band’s witness in the case. He, too, was left speechless by the outcome.
“I’m absolutely flabbergasted. I think the case cost somewhere near £30,000 to bring to court and I think the claimant was represented by one of those ‘No Win, No Fee’ companies you see advertised on telly. The judge didn’t know anything about fishing, and even admitted as much. I also don’t think he appreciated the repercussions of his judgement,” said Ken.
However, a legal representative contacted by Angling Times was quick to reassure fishery owners that the case should not have the ramifications for the industry that many fear.
“The decision will come as a disappointment to fishery owners who should be able to expect those visiting their premises to take reasonable care for their own safety. Fortunately, as the decision is at county court level it should not set a precedent,” he said.
Mr Gardner was unavailable for comment at the time of going to press.