A man who tripped and fell into a trench at Hopetoun House, suffering a broken right ankle, has been awarded £8,750 in stately home car park fall compensation after a sitting of the Court of Session in Edinburgh.
John Cowan (65), the court was advised, had visited Hopetoun House in Edinburgh with his grandson in September 2008 for an organised “bat walk” – a tour of the stately home in which visitors armed with torches to look for bats.
with the tour complete, John and his grandson started to make their way back to the car park of the stately home. John, in error, stepped over the edge of an unlit “ha-ha” in the dark – a landscaping feature for keeping livestock away from the main buildings – and fractured his ankle when he fell into the five foot deep trench on the other side of it.
Having spoken to a solicitor, John made a claim for a stately home car park fall against the Hopetoun House Preservation Trust. The Trust did not accept John’s compensation claim, stating that instructions were given by the tour guide in charge on how to return to the car park when the tour was over; however John said he had not heard the tour guide in charge issue instructions, as he had taken his grandson to the bathroom at the time.
At the Court of Sessions, Countryside Ranger Peter Stevens stated that he had grouped the entire tour party inside the Ranger Centre at the end of the tour and gave directions on returning to the stately home car park. He testified that, had he known John and his grandson were absent from the group, he would have given them individual instructions when they returned from using the toilet at the end of the tour
However, the judge found in John´s favour; stating that he considered Ranger Stevens to be incorrect. The judge acknowledged that, as Mr Cowan was carrying a torch at the time, there was an issue of contributory negligence ito be considered and he reduced the proposed settlement of compensation for a fall in a stately home car park from £35,000 to £8,750.Read More