CARNIVAL organiser Ed Walley slammed the legal system after winning a civil case that could have cost him £47,000 if he’d lost.
Mr Walley, of Cotton Abbotts, Waverton, was unsuccessfully sued after a child cut his leg at Waverton Carnival in 2010 while playing on the ‘wriggle along the barrel’ attraction on the Village Green after day-time carnival activities were over.
But Mr Walley has now called time on Waverton Carnival, breaking a tradition going back 80 years, due to the stress, saying such legal cases are one of reasons such events are no longer happening.
But solicitor Trevor Morris, who handled the claim, emphasised it is the owner of the equipment who is liable for any personal injury claims in such circumstances – not the carnival or event organiser.
Also sued was Mr Walley’s son Mathew, who ran the beer tent, and the Crocky Trail Ltd but the action failed at Wrexham County Court last month.
Mr Walley said the court had been unable to prove he had a connection with the equipment.
If he had lost, Mr Walley would have been out of pocket for his £9,000 legal costs, £18,000 for the other side’s costs doubled to £36,000 because of the lawyer’s fee, plus just £2,000 for the cut.
“The attitude is ‘no-one is going to suffer if there is money to be made – let’s have some’,” said Mr Walley, who says the other side is insured against losing under the no-win no-fee arrangement and described the situation as ‘quite obscene’.
Mr Walley said his £350 insurance policy wouldn’t pay out for the personal injury claim as the incident was four-and-a-half hours after the carnival had ended when the cover had run out – even if it had paid out, the future insurance premium would have become ‘astronomical’.
Trevor Morris, of Chester-based Bartletts Solicitors, who handled the claim, said: “The ride owner is responsible for ensuring the safety of the public at all times, even if the equipment is not in use or supervised and they should hold public liability insurance in case of any accident.
“There would be no financial implications for a carnival or even organiser or their insurance policy for a ride brought in by an external supplier, such as in this case.”