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Supreme Court hands down important judgment on landlords repairing obligations

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Landmark decision allows claimants to seek compensation for symptomless injuries

Edwards v Kumarasamy [2016] UKSC 40 - The case concerned a claim for damages for personal injury sustained as a result of alleged disrepair at a property.

The tenant (Mr Edwards) had been taking rubbish from the flat to the communal dustbins when he tripped over an uneven paving stone on the paved area which led to the main entrance door. He sustained injuries and issued proceedings against the landlord (Mr Kumarasamy) arguing that his injury was a result of the landlords failure to keep the paved area in repair which was a breach of the implied covenants under S11 (1) (a) and S11(1A)(a) of the Landlord and Tenant Act

At trial Mr Edwards succeeded and was awarded £3750.00 in damages. The landlord successfully appealed in the decision in the High Court on the grounds that the paved area was not within the ambit of S11 and even if it was the landlord would not have been liable as he had no notice of the disrepair. The tenant appealed and the Court of Appeal allowed his appeal. The landlord then appealed to the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court today handed down judgment and unanimously allowed the landlords appeal. The questions the court considered were whether the paved area fell within the ambit of S11 and whether the landlord could be liable even if he had no notice of the disrepair before the accident.

The Supreme Court held that it was not possible to describe a path leading from a car park to the entrance door as part of the exterior of the front hall of the building. The Court also held that although the appellant had a sufficient “interest” in the front hallway and paved area for the purposes of s 11(1A) of the 1985 Act, he was not liable for the disrepair which caused the tenant’s injury. He could only be liable if the paved area was “part of the exterior of the front hall” and it was not, and he could only be liable if he had had notice of the disrepair before the accident, and he did not.

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