Defending a claim at Hampton Court Castle and Gardens

08 November 2016

Hampton Court Castle and Gardens are situated in the Herefordshire countryside between Hereford and Leominster. The 15th Century Castle and 1,000 acres of stunning parklands provide a popular destination for weddings, corporate events and private functions.

The incident

In early September 2010, whilst attending a wedding reception at the Castle and Gardens, a member of the wedding party failed to notice the presence of one of the castle’s Haha1 and accidentally stepped over the edge of the Haha, falling a distance of 4 feet and fracturing his arm in the process.
 
An accident was reported to the Castle’s management three days after the incident and a claim against the property followed soon after. The claimant alleged that the Haha was inherently dangerous and even though its presence was highlighted by a marker rope, the claimant insisted it should have either been fenced off or had its presence drawn to the public’s attention by way of appropriate warning signs.

Defending the claim

It was clear from the outset that not defending this claim could have serious implications not only for the Castle, but also other heritage properties with similar landscape features. Therefore, following an initial investigation of all the available evidence and information provided on the claim, the decision was made to put a tailored defence strategy in place.
1A Haha is a feature consisting of a turfed ditch once used to prevent grazing cattle from gaining access to castle lawns.