Supreme Court Rules on Edwards v Kumarasamy

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The Supreme Court has today (13 July 2016) given its judgment on the case of Edwards versus Kumarasamy – finding that the landlord, Mr Kumarasamy, was not liable for the disrepair which caused his tenant’s injury.

In this case, which had been subject to two earlier appeals, Mr Kumarasamy’s tenant, Mr Edwards, suffered minor injuries resulting from an accident sustained while taking rubbish from his flat to communal dustbins. While walking from his flat to the bin storage area Mr Edwards tripped over an uneven paving stone which formed part of a paved area used by residents to access the bins.

The landlord had previously been found liable for damages by a deputy district judge by virtue of the statutory repairing covenant enshrined by section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985.

Prior to reaching the Supreme Court both Mr Edwards and Mr Kumarasamy have had appeals allowed.

Delivering this, final, judgment Lord Justice Neuberger found that:

  • Mr Kumarasamy was not liable for the disrepair which caused the injury.
  • He could only be liable if the paved area in question was “part of the exterior of the front hall” – which it was not.
  • He could only be liable if he had prior notice of the disrepair before the accident.

As with most cases which reach the Supreme Court, the argument has become very technical and somewhat complex.

The full judgment may be found here: https://www.supremecourt.uk/cases/docs/uksc-2015-0095-judgment.pdf

However, in summary it appears that common-sense has prevailed. The landlord in question was found not liable for the injury to his tenant on the basis that the defect was not directly part of the property let by him and that he was not made aware of the defect in order to seek a solution.

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