Dufosse v Melbry Events – Case Summary

Dufosse v Melbry Events

Court of Appeal

Citations: [2011] EWCA Civ 1711.


The claimant visited a Santa’s grotto at Selfridges in London with her family and grandchildren. While there, she fell and injured her leg after tripping on a plastic icicle ornament on the floor.

The defendant, who ran the event, had never had an accident in the past. They had assigned one of Santa’s assistants to accompany visitors in and out of the room and to ensure that nothing was left on the floor. The assistant present on the day testified that they had not seen the icicle.

The claimant sued the defendant in negligence and occupiers’ liability. The trial judge held that the defendant was not in breach of their duty of care, because they had a good safety system in place and the assistant had not seen the icicle.

  1. Had the defendant breached their duty of care to the claimant?

The Court of Appeal allowed the appeal. The icicle would have been visible to the assistant (and Santa) had they been paying proper attention to their safety duties. The defendant was therefore in breach of their duty of care.

This Case is Authority For…

The fact that the defendant normally has an adequate safety policy in place does not necessarily mean that they have discharged their duty of care. This will be the case if the safety policy is not properly carried out in a manner which led to the claimant’s injury.