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James Robertson v BAE Systems Marine Limited, Court of Session 5th October 2010


The pursuer was a shipwright who was injured at work on 16th January 2007. He was working on a new naval destroyer at the Defender's Govan shipyard, when he slipped on an manhole cover on deck which had not been properly replaced and secured. The pursuer's case was that he suffered a fractured skull, soft tissue injuries to his neck and post-concussion syndrome. The proof was heard before Lord Bannatyne over three days from 28th September, and the issues in dispute were contributory negligence and quantum. A verbal judgment was given on 5th October.

Lord Bannatyne found that there had been no contributory negligence – the pursuer had been working in the area for some time before the accident, with the cover being properly in place, and it was not reasonable for him to have expected the cover to have been moved. Given the hazardous nature of a ship in the process of construction, it was not reasonable to expect workers to pay the same degree of attention to the floor that pedestrians may do in the street.

As to quantum, the judge accepted the evidence of the pursuer's expert witnesses, Dr Durward and Dr Gillam, and found that the pursuer would continue to suffer symptoms of post-concussion syndrome for the rest of his life. The most significant factor was considered to be his ongoing low mood, which lead to social isolation. Lord Bannatyne valued solatium at £13,500. The total award was £15,231.

Mr Robertson was represented by Amber Galbraith of Compass Chambers.


  • Court of Session (Outer House)
  • Thursday, 07 October 2010