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Supreme Court consider compensation under the Building Act 1984

The Supreme Court has today heard an appeal by Hastings Borough Council, represented by Steven Gasztowicz QC and Jack Parker (and earlier by Clare Parry), against a decision that it is liable to pay compensation to the assignee of an operator of a bingo hall and amusement arcade on Hastings Pier.

The claim for compensation arose out of the Council having taken emergency action under s. 78 of the Building Act 1984 to prevent public access, the Council having received an expert report that parts of the pier were in danger of collapse if they became overloaded.

The issue for the determination of the Court is whether the operator was "in default" in relation to the matter in respect of which the Council exercised its power so as to debar the claim for compensation pursuant to s. 106 of the Building Act 1984. The Court of Appeal held that a party could only be "in default" of an obligation contained in the Building Act 1984 itself. The Council is arguing that the operator should not be entitled to compensation because, by admitting the public to premises which were dangerous, it was in breach of its duties to the public under the Occupier's Liability Act 1957 and its duties under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 in relation to employees.

Judgment is expected later this year.

For further information about the appeal, please contact the Cornerstone Clerks at clerks@cornerstonebarristers.com.