Schools are not under a duty “to safeguard children against harm in all circumstances”

A Judge who said, “such things happen”, has overturned a compensation award to nine-year Lewis Pierce who injured his thumb at school.

West Sussex County Council were sued on behalf of Lewis Pierce in 2009 after he injured his thumb at St Andrews’ School in Nuthurst, Horsham.

Lady Justice Sharp said Lewis, then 9, was sprayed with water by his brother George, then 7, from a newly installed water fountain. Lewis then tried to punch George who dodged his brother’s blow, resulting in Lewis punching the underside of the water fountain bowl instead.

Lewis sustained injuries to his tendon, which was repaired under general anaesthetic.

Last November, District Judge Gamba ruled the authority was liable for damages and awarded Lewis £3,215. The District Judge ruled that the school had not “considered what risk the water fountain might pose to children”.

The Court of Appeal overturned this decision and ruled that schools ‘cannot be expected to be hazard-free zones where children are protected from possible injuries’.

West Sussex County Council described the ruling as “a victory for common sense”.

Written by Victoria Silsbury