Tuesday, January 16th, 2018

Daly v Heeps [2018] SC EDIN 01

On a warm and sunny Sunday morning in August 2015, two retired men set out separately into the Perthshire countryside for their favourite pastimes. They met in a collision on a narrow country lane. The pursuer was participating in a cycling time-trial event with 2 team-mates. The defender was towing his motorboat on a wide trailer behind his 4x4 car. They were both travelling at just under 25 mph, neither slowing appreciably as they approached one another. The pursuer’s 2 team-mates safely passed the trailer ahead of him. The pursuer’s arm collided with the trailer and he was knocked from his cycle. The unfolding accident was recorded on the dash-cam of a following taxi, with a colourful audio narrative by the taxi-driver.

The pursuer contended the defender was driving too fast and that he was not close enough to the nearside of the road. The defender contended that the speed of the car was immaterial because the pursuer did not look up to see the boat trailer.  The defender also contended that he was driving at or very near the side of the road. Quantum was agreed.

After a 4-day proof, Sheriff Braid found the defender liable to the pursuer, but subject to 50% contributory negligence. Both were travelling at excessive speed, but for which they possibly could have adopted safer road positions. The decision is one on the particular facts and reliability of witnesses. The judgment contains a detailed analysis of evidence which practitioners may find illustrative of the court’s approach to increasingly common accidents involving competitive cycling.

The parties were represented by Preston Lloyd, Advocate, and Craig Murray, Advocate, both of Compass Chambers. A copy of the Judgment can be found here

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