On 23rd July 2015 Lord Justice Kitchin sitting in the Court of Appeal refused the Claimants application for permission to appeal against the decision of HHJ Platts sitting in the High Court, Manchester made in the case of Pearson v Anwar on 14th October 2014.

Mr Pearson’s claim arose out of an accident which occurred on 29th January 2010. Mr Pearson was travelling as a front seat passenger in a taxi driven by the Defendant Mr Anwar who lost control of the vehicle when it skidded on ice and collided with another vehicle.

During the collision Mr Pearson’s head was propelled forward by the impact and struck a structural pillar beside the windscreen. This resulted in severe spinal fractures and rendered him tetraplegic.

At the time of the accident Mr Pearson was not wearing a seatbelt. A trial solely in relation to the issue of contributory negligence took place on 14th October 2014. HHJ Platts found that if the Claimant had been wearing a seatbelt his injuries would have been limited to a whiplash injury lasting around 3-6 months.

The Claimant relied upon the guidance set out by Lord Denning in the landmark case of Froom v Butcher [1976] 1 QB 286 and argued that the deduction for contributory negligence should be limited to 15% as even with a seatbelt in use, the Claimant would have suffered some form of injury.

HHJ Platts disagreed and noted that it was agreed by both parties that the Claimants head striking the pillar of the taxi would have been prevented if he had been wearing a seatbelt. He concluded that in that sense the injury sustained in the accident would have been prevented altogether and therefore that the appropriate deduction was 25%.

Lord Justice Kitchin upheld the decision made by HHJ Platts and refused permission to appeal. Lord Justice Kitchin concluded that the appeal had no reasonable prospect of success.

Robert Jones and Natalie Simpkins of Ellisons represented Markerstudy Insurance Company Limited and were advised by Neil Block QC in this fundamental case which reconsidered the principles set down in Froom v Butcher. The decision will be important to insurers looking to achieve the full 25% deduction for claimants who fail to wear a seatbelt.