We recommend a DJ to guests holding events in our pub. Last weekend a wedding guest tripped over some loose wires from the DJ’s equipment and broke their arm. Was it our responsibility to ensure the equipment was secure or is the DJ the one accountable?”
As the occupier of the premises you have a common duty of care to take such care as in all the circumstances is reasonable to see that a visitor will be reasonably safe in using your premises for the purpose for which they are invited and permitted to be there pursuant to the Occupiers Liability Act 1957.
In a scenario such as this, the wedding guest would be entitled to pursue a claim against you as the owners and occupiers of the pub in question. In turn you could seek to pursue a claim for recovery or contribution from the DJ.
Public liability insurance
You can take some steps to protect yourselves against a claim such as this. First of all when allowing a DJ onto your premises for the purpose of such events you should ensure that they hold relevant Public Liability Insurance. You should also ideally enter into a contract/agreement with them whereby they agree to indemnify you as occupiers for any claim for injury or other losses arising from their negligence.
This would enable you to seek an appropriate indemnity from the DJ in question by relying upon such an agreement/contract in the event that an accident does occur as a result of the DJ’s failure to for example, as in this scenario ensure loose wires are secured. In addition you should ensure that anyone engaged on your premises is instructed to carry out appropriate risk assessments to include assessing the risks to visitors arising from the performance of their DJ’s duties.
In this case, had the DJ carried out an appropriate risk assessment, the risks to visitors being exposed to a tripping hazard from loose wires from the equipment should have been identified and appropriate control measures could have been implemented; to include ensuring that there were no loose wires left in a position so as to expose visitors to a foreseeable risk of injury.
Ideally as occupiers you should ensure that such risk assessments are provided to you so that you can satisfy yourselves that the DJ has considered all suitable matters and has implemented adequate control measures to prevent such accidents occurring.
In terms of your own duty as an occupier it would also be preferable to carry out your own risk assessments to demonstrate to a court that you have complied with your obligations pursuant to legislation to ensure visitors’ reasonable safety by conducting your own risk assessments for such events where third parties are engaged.
Inevitably this is because in a case like this it will be easier for a visitor to issue a claim directly against the pub as the occupier and the onus would then be on the occupier to demonstrate to the court that appropriate steps have been taken to ensure a visitors reasonable safety (for example carrying out your own risk assessments and entering into an agreement with those engaged by you on the premises to ensure that they did likewise).
The occupier would also have the additional protection of a contract/agreement with the DJ to rely upon should any such claim be presented to seek an appropriate indemnity from a third party such as a DJ. If as the occupier of the premises you are present during such events then additional measures should also be taken to adequately train and instruct your own employees with regard to regular inspections for trip and slip hazards during such an event which will provide you with additional evidence that you took care to see that a visitor was reasonably safe to enable you to defend such a claim.
Navdip Wilson is an Associate Solicitor specialising in employer liability and occupier liability claims at Weightmans.