When blaming yourself just won’t wash

A motor mechanic who lost a finger working in his company’s workshop has failed in his attempt to win damages from his insurers, after trying to claim for his own negligence as the sole company director.

Peter Brumder tried to win damages from his company insurers after his finger was severed by a hydraulic ramp, on the basis that the Company was in breach of their statutory duty to maintain the hydraulic ramp in efficient working order.

But although the Company had breached their absolute statutory obligation to maintain equipment in efficient working order, the claim was unsuccessful because the court ruled that Mr Brumder, as sole director and shareholder of the Company, was in breach of his obligation to exercise reasonable care to enable the Company to fulfil its obligations.

The case of Brumder v Motornet  went all the way to the Court of Appeal, where the claim was dismissed on the grounds that as a director of the company, Mr Brumder should have been aware of his health and safety duties and by failing in those, he had breached his duty as a director under the Companies Act 2006.  He was a wrongdoer and he could not gain advantage from his own wrongdoing.

Said corporate expert Rupert Chichester of Greenwich solicitors Grant Saw : “The statutory obligation to maintain work equipment is an absolute duty.  If you are running a business on your own, it’s no good thinking that it’s only me and I’ll be careful.  Sole directors and sole traders must take steps to ensure that they are fulfilling their statutory obligations and keeping up to date with legislation and ensuring equipment is properly maintained.”

Brumder v Motornet [2013] EWCA Civ 195

This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.