Installing bannister an improvement not a repair

Tuesday 24 May 2016

Sternbaum v Dhesi [2016] EWCA Civ (Hallett LJ, Briggs LJ, Moylan J)

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Sternbaum v Dhesi [2016] EWCA Civ (Hallett LJ, Briggs LJ, Moylan J)

D was the landlord of premises which were let to a company in which S had an interest. In 2009, when visiting the premises S slipped and fell on the stairs. S sought to claim damages against D for personal injury arising from s4 Defective Premises Act 1972.

There was no bannister to the staircase, although there was evidence that a bannister had been removed at some point prior to the grant of the tenancy. S sought to argue that the stairs were in a dangerous condition, that the staircase and the bannister were part of the structure of the building, and that in failing to reinstate the bannister D had failed to keep the structure in repair.

The judge at first instance found that the accident would not have happened had there been a bannister but rejected S’s claim on the basis that there was no obligation to fit a bannister. The Court of Appeal dismissed S’s appeal. A duty to repair or maintain property does not equate to a duty to make the property safe.

The installation of a bannister would have constituted an improvement and not a repair and did not fall within the ambit of s4.

Click here for the judgment.

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