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Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you have any legal concerns we suggest you consult a solicitor.

Any legal people about to take a look at a thread?

(73 Posts)
Sparklingbrook Fri 09-Aug-13 12:16:19

Here. It's been going on since Weds 31st. just interested to know from a legal perspective. TIA.

BadLad Mon 19-Aug-13 16:38:42

If you think about it, the Audi owner wants shoppers to do is hold a trolley with one hand while trying to pick up bags of groceries or a baby or small child and put them in a vehicle with the other hand (maintaining a hand on the trolley at all times)

Well, that doesn't actually sound too unreasonable to me.

Of course, that is nothing like the situation the OP on the other thread was in. There were two adults, so one could have held the trolley while the other loaded the shopping, and there wasn't a baby, there was a child who was able to get into the car himself, which he did.

I did like the phrase "decanting the shopping", however.

It must be very frustrating for lawyers having non-lawyers contradict them and insist that what they think the law should be is what the law actually is.

WestieMamma Mon 19-Aug-13 15:26:54

Funnily enough the supermarket where I'm from is on quite a steep slope. I've been using it for 30+ years as have most of my family. None of us have ever let our trolleys damage anyone else's car and nobody has every let their trolley damage ours. It's pretty clear that most people manage to keep control of their trolleys without too much bother.

If someone is incapable of controlling a trolley without damaging other peoples' property then they shouldn't be using one. It really is that simple.

Collaborate Mon 19-Aug-13 14:48:25

FWIW I agree with those saying that it is the duty of the person with the trolley not to take it to a place where, if they let go of it, it will roll into another car and cause damage. As a lawyer I would gladly take their money to argue the opposite, but I know I'm likely to lose, and so would the shopper in the original thread if they don't pay to repair the damage they've caused.

mathanxiety Mon 19-Aug-13 13:55:11

It is intended to be used to hold groceries, babies and small children until you put them into your car, and 99.9% of the time you are going to have to use two hands to do that (so you are not going to be in control of the trolley every single minute of the operation). In fact, I can't think of any occasion when I personally have managed to do that, or even thought of doing any of that, without using two hands.

mathanxiety Mon 19-Aug-13 13:52:44

This is not a car and not intended to be something you hold onto or remain in control of at all times. It is unreasonable to expect a trolley user to have to do something that makes that trolley almost completely un-usable for its intended and reasonable purpose (to hold onto it while decanting shopping or small child with one hand). To park downhill in that car park and expect other shoppers to take unreasonable precautions with their trolleys is crazy.

TheDoctrineOfJetlag Mon 19-Aug-13 12:24:04

Math, if your car rolled into another car on a slope, that would be your fault.

There are a surprising number of annoyingly slopey car parks, in my experience!

prh47bridge Mon 19-Aug-13 11:24:08

The slope does not complicate matters at all. It simply means that people with shopping trolleys must take additional care to ensure their trolley doesn't run away and damage other people's property. It does not in any way absolve the user of the shopping trolley from her duty of care.

And this is not about what the Audi owner wants shoppers to do. It is about what the law expects them to do. If you are using a shopping trolley you are responsible for ensuring the trolley does not damage other people's property. The risk that an unrestrained shopping trolley might run away down a slope is one that can easily be anticipated and therefore you must take appropriate precautions to ensure that doesn't happen.

Of course, even putting aside consideration for other users of the car park, you need the shopping trolley to stay put while you are unloading it. You don't want to have to keep retrieving it after it has run away with your shopping. If that means you have to keep one hand on it at all times then that is what you have to do.

norkmonster Mon 19-Aug-13 10:22:34

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

mathanxiety Sun 18-Aug-13 23:48:39

The slope in the carpark is the part that complicates this. In most other carparks, leaving your hand off a trolley is not going to result in the trolley rolling off downhill. Therefore in this carpark an unreasonable amount of care is needed when handling trolleys, which apparently do not have brakes. If you think about it, the Audi owner wants shoppers to do is hold a trolley with one hand while trying to pick up bags of groceries or a baby or small child and put them in a vehicle with the other hand (maintaining a hand on the trolley at all times), and imo this is an unreasonable expectation of the amount of care towards other users of the carpark because it interferes to an enormous extent with a shopper's ability to complete the act of shopping and take care of a baby or child safely.

SimLondon Sun 18-Aug-13 23:37:14

I think this is a 50/50 thing.

Boosiehs Fri 16-Aug-13 17:06:11

I think that other car park users are perfectly within the scope of duty.

Discussions of quantum, that the OP can't afford to pay immediately, are not important. Why should people have less obligation to pay if they are poor(er)?

Male member, your answer sounds a bit like a law student's essay.....

prh47bridge Fri 16-Aug-13 13:51:52

mathanxiety - It is admitted that there was a collision between the shopping trolley and the Audi. In the absence of any other evidence the balance of probability is therefore that any damage to the car in the area of the impact was caused by the impact. The Audi owner is entitled to have that damage repaired properly which, for a reasonably new car, means by an Audi dealer (who may well replace the affected body panel).

The bodywork on modern cars is designed to crumple on impact so damage some way from the actual impact may nonetheless have been caused by the impact. The OP could get expert opinion as to whether or not the impact with the shopping trolley caused the damage if she thinks it didn't. Of course, if the expert says it is possible the trolley caused the damage she would have wasted her money.

MaleMember - Yes it is entirely reasonable for the OP to think about the potential effect on other users of the car park of her failure to ensure the trolley did not run away. The fact that it was raining and she had a sick and distressed child is not relevant. A court would not find that primary responsibility rests with Aldi for having a car park on a slope. They would find the OP primarily responsible for failing to control the shopping trolley.

MaleMember Fri 16-Aug-13 12:34:57

There seems to be a consensus that the OP was guilty of negligence - but I'm not sure that is the case.

As someone mentioned previously, the case law on negligence requires there to be a duty of care on person A in relation to person B - the negligence being that that duty was not met in a specific circumstance. The classic case was Donoghue v Stevenson 1932 where a woman drank a bottle of ginger beer which her friend had bought her in a cafe. Unfortunately, the bottle contained the decomposing corpse of a snail (yuck!), and the woman sued the drink manufacturer on the grounds that they had been negligent when they produced the beer. And she won.

In his summing up, the Judge (Lord Atkin) provided what is still the basis of the common law duty of care:

The rule that you are to love your neighbour becomes in law, you must not injure your neighbour; and the lawyer’s question, ‘Who is my neighbour?’ receives a restricted reply. […] The answer seems to be – persons, who are so closely and directly affected by my act that I ought reasonably to have them in contemplation as being so affected when I am directing my mind to the acts or omissions which are called in question.

In this case, would it be reasonable for the OP to think about the potential effect on Audi woman contemplation about her actions? It was raining, there was a sick and distressed child and the trolley only moved because the Aldi car park is on a slope. If anything, a court might argue that any accusation of negligence might better be levelled against Aldi.

And if you think I’ve been making this up, have a look at Wikipedia: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donoghue_v_Stevenson

WestieMamma Fri 16-Aug-13 07:41:38

I give up.

mathanxiety Fri 16-Aug-13 04:13:22

Any car that has been out of the dealer's for any length of time is likely to have sustained the odd ding or two. Lacking any cctv, apparently, to show the trolley hitting the car with enough force to cause a ding all there is is one person's word against another's that the dings weren't already there. The OP didn't have a chance to examine the car before her trolley bumped against it.

If it was a matter of under a hundred pounds to repair the damage then it might be fair to say 'pay up' to the OP merely on the say so of the Audi owner. But trying to squeeze over 500 quid out of her when it is just one person's word against another's that the trolley was the cause of the dings and not something else, somewhere else, warrants closer examination. It's a significant amount of money to the OP, and it is money she doesn't have. She would have to pay in installments. Moreover, the damage could probably be fixed for far less than the Audi owners are trying to extract.

WestieMamma Thu 15-Aug-13 23:27:03

What you are suggesting is pure speculation aimed at getting out of paying. There is not one shred of evidence to support what you are suggesting. No solicitor will argue this because they'd be laughed out of court.

mathanxiety Thu 15-Aug-13 22:32:41

In the case of the runaway trolley, a measuring tape and examination of the trolley and location of dings on the car would go a long way towards establishing whether it was probable that trolley that hit the car.

It may be a low value case relative to many other cases but the OP in the Aldi thread doesn't have the means, at all, to fork over 500 quid just on the say so of the Audi owner and courts are not there to rubber stamp the claims of chancers. I hope she gets a solicitor who cares about her financial situation and understands that there is plenty of room for a good argument that the dings came from some other source.

Boosiehs Thu 15-Aug-13 18:59:40

Collaborate, voice of reason.

Math anxiety and digerd, are you lawyers? There seems to be much confusion between the burden of proof in civil and criminal cases.

It will probably come down to one parties word against he other. It's a vvv low value case, most likely to settle before court.

Conduct of the parties (shouting etc) is not a factor.

Collaborate Thu 15-Aug-13 09:44:53

There is a fine line between the balance of doubt and the balance of probability

Test in criminal cases is someone has to be found to be guilty beyond reasonable doubt. There is a huge difference between this and the civil standard of proof, which is balance of probability. If there are 2 possibilities, A and B, and A is slightly more likely (say 51%) to have happened than B, then A will be proved in a civil case.

In a criminal case, you'd have to be sure that you could rule out B as having occurred, otherwise there is reasonable doubt.

digerd Thu 15-Aug-13 05:59:53

Exactly. OP said later there were 2 small dents but not whether she saw them or was told this by the other car owner. She was in shock and "overwhelmed by the verbal abuse" at the time.

mathanxiety Thu 15-Aug-13 03:00:21

Even sticking strictly to the balance of probabilities, any sol worth his or her salt might ask where the car is normally driven, where it is parked, how many times it has been in a supermarket carpark where the trolleys don't have brakes (lots of supermarkets don't have trolleys with brakes apparently), and a simple measuring tape and examination of the angles involved could establish very clearly whether the balance of probability lies with the ding arising from some other incident.

mathanxiety Thu 15-Aug-13 02:55:49

There is a fine line between the balance of doubt and the balance of probability.

BadLad Thu 15-Aug-13 02:49:21

As for trollies with brakes, well that's a completely new one on me - I have never in my 32 years seen a trolley with brakes on.

Wow - someone to posh to push her own trolley at the airport. grin

and yes, I know you meant supermarket trolleys

TheDoctrineOfJetlag Wed 14-Aug-13 07:58:05

That's always (I think) true in UK civil cases, Digerd.

digerd Wed 14-Aug-13 07:38:07

the balance of probabilities as a definition of proof!? confused shock

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