McDonald -v- Frossway Trading as Bleu & Ors
O’Neill J noted that anyone, lay or expert, who considered the relevant features of the location of the stairs, namely, in a busy city restaurant, in an ambiance where the lighting was relatively low, the rather dark colouring of the stairs, the absence of any clear markings on the nosings of the stairs, the normal noise, hubbub and conviviality that one would expect in a restaurant of this kind late at night, the fact that diners at that time of night would be enjoying themselves and may have consumed some alcohol and the constant movement around the restaurant of patrons and staff; these features would have brought about a realisation there was a high level of risk that a diner late at night would miss their footing on the steps and stumble.
The Court ruled that the first and second named defendants could not excuse their failure by saying they engaged an independent expert contractor when the danger posed by the absence of a handrail in this location must have been readily foreseeable to them as experienced restaurateurs. They did not need the advice or assistance of an expert to appreciate such an obvious risk.
The full judgement can be read here: