Santa liable for ‘elf and safety’ failure

20 Dec 2011

A grandmother fractured her thigh after slipping on a plastic icicle which should have been cleared away by Father Christmas and his elf at Selfridges' grotto, the Court of Appeal has recently ruled.

The Claimant's claim for compensation against the company that ran the shop's grotto, was initially rejected by a judge at Southampton County Court. After hearing evidence from Father Christmas and his elf, the judge decided that the icicle had not been in plain view and they should not have been expected to remove it.

This decision has now been reversed by the Court of Appeal who ruled that the "offending icicle" should have been spotted. The Claimant, at the request of Santa's elf, stepped sideways and backwards into a corner, before treading on the icicle and falling. She is now entitled to receive compensation for her injuries. Lord Justice Rix stated: "It was not her duty in these circumstances to ensure there were no tripping hazards in the room which might cause something amiss. This was purely the duty of Santa and the elf."

The Claimant's barrister John Bate-Williams, said: "I hesitated to trouble the Court of Appeal with a case involving Santa, an elf and the Claimant, but this is a case in which this lady suffered a very nasty injury. There was no justification for the finding that the bauble was partly hidden. Even if it was partly concealed, the defendants should have noticed it. It was not the family's responsibility to see this icicle. They had the excitement of grandchildren going to see Father Christmas and a very pretty elf beckoning them in. It is absolutely the responsibility of the elf and Father Christmas at all times to keep the grotto clean and tidy."