We recently toured some Year 9 children and their teachers around our site. We provided everyone with PPE, including gloves. It appears one child removed his gloves to touch some product coming off the line, and subsequently injured his hand. The parents are blaming both us and the school for not looking after their son. We argue, though, that we provided the correct PPE, and it was the child removing it that caused the injuries. Do we have a case?
You, the company, owed a duty of care as occupier of the premises. You will be liable unless you took all reasonable care to ensure the pupils would be kept reasonably safe during their visit. You will be judged on the assessment of the risks posed by the visit, the staff/teacher-to-pupil ratio, the adequacy of the health & safety briefing and provision and use of PPE.
The school had a duty to do all that was reasonable to protect the health, safety and welfare of pupils. Reasonable steps must be taken to avoid exposing pupils to foreseeable dangers and ensure that the pupils are aware of any dangers. It may not always be sufficient to simply give instructions to pupils. The school will be liable if the injury was a direct result of negligence or breach of the duty of care on the part of the teachers.
The pupil was in Year 9, so between 13 and 14 years of age. The courts accept a child under 16 may understand the nature of advice given and may have sufficient maturity to understand the consequences of ignoring that advice. The question is whether an ordinary 13-year-old child could have been expected to understand and appreciate the possible consequences of his actions. There might a reduction of any compensation awarded on the basis that the child ought to have foreseen the possible consequences of his actions, although the court would likely be reluctant to place too high a burden on the child.
There is a risk that you and the school will both be held liable for allowing the pupils into the premises and exposing them to a manufacturing process that presented a real risk of injury. There are prospects of a modest finding of contributory negligence on the pupil's part.
Our firm have spent five years working with a major OEM in the military sector to develop a revolutionary new component.Our MD was due to take a prototype to a meeting with senior representatives from government and the OEM but left the briefcase containing the part on a train. We’re terrified about it falling into our rivals’ hands. If this were to happen, is there anything we do about it?
If a competitor finds the prototype, there are a few steps you can take to try and prevent
it from being exploited:
• Confidential information: In England, the law of confidence permits a party to seek an injunction to prevent use or disclosure of confidential information and to obtain delivery up of the relevant material. The availability of this option will be dependent on the exact circumstances but it seems likely to apply in this case.
• Intellectual property (IP)infringement: It may be that registered or unregistered IP rights were generated or applied for during the development of the prototype. The exact IP rights that are relevant depends on the prototype. For example, depending on the materials in question, this could be copyright in design drawings or written documents, registered or unregistered design rights, or patents. This could also be used to seek an injunction. With both confidential information and intellectual property infringement it will be important to confirm the specific proprietor of such rights, particularly as the prototype was developed with a third party (the OEM), as this will affect who is able to initiate any legal action. In addition, to obtain effective injunctive relief preventing disclosure and/or use, it will be necessary to move extremely quickly once any actual or threatened use or disclosure is discovered.
As this is a very complicated area of law, the best way forward is to monitor the market and, if you discover that a competitor has possession of the prototype, obtain specialist advice about what specific action is available in order to protect your rights and prevent the competitor from using it.
We are a US-based firm with a European manufacturing HQ in Reading. We also have a satellite site in India that produces products mainly for the Asian market, although some are sold in Europe when Reading can't meet demand. Recently, we received complaints that products that had been made in India and sold in Italy were faulty, and have since been sued by the customer. Under whose jurisdiction will the case fall – Italy, India, the UK, or the US?
For the purposes of this answer we have assumed that the product was sold by the company’s European entity in Reading and the product was bought by a business domiciled in Italy, who is pursuing a claim for breach of contract against the supplier, rather than a tortious claim for negligence.
The Recast Brussels Regulations contain rules for determining the correct jurisdiction for claims involving parties in EU member states.
A contract for the sale of goods will often contain a jurisdiction clause specifying that disputes under it will be dealt with by the courts of a particular country. If the clause specifies those courts as the exclusive forum, a claim should be brought in that jurisdiction, and given effect by the courts of any member state.
If a contract contains a clause allowing non-exclusive jurisdiction, the Regulations allow the customer the option
of bringing its claim in either:
• The courts of a jurisdiction specified in a non-exclusive jurisdiction clause;
• The courts of the supplier’s country of domicile (i.e. in the English courts); or
• The courts of the place of delivery of the goods (i.e. most likely the Italian courts).
If proceedings are brought in a jurisdiction which is not permitted under the Regulations, then the supplier may challenge the jurisdiction of the relevant court to determine the dispute. This challenge may be brought in that court or potentially in the court where any proceedings should have been brought (e.g. the courts named in an exclusive jurisdiction clause). However, if a party takes any step beyond contesting jurisdiction in the courts where proceedings have been issued, it is likely to be taken to have submitted to the jurisdiction of those courts.
When involved in a dispute with multi-jurisdictional elements, in addition to considering the appropriate jurisdiction in which that claim should be heard, it is also important to consider the applicable law which will govern that dispute. The applicable law may differ from the jurisdiction where proceedings take place.
This note constitutes generic guidance in a complex area of private international law. It should not be taken as a substitute for legal advice, which would depend on the specific facts and documentation.