Richard was instructed by Lyons Davidson to represent the first defendant in the High Court in this property damage case in which a tree fell onto a main railway line.

The claimant train operator sought to recover the cost of repairing damage to a train, and other consequential costs, against the first defendant landowner and the second defendant tree surgeon after a tree growing on the first defendant’s land fell onto the adjoining railway line. A train collided with the tree causing extensive damage to the rolling stock.

Following a trial on 12th to 15th May 2014, on 11th June 2014, Coulson J gave judgment for the first and second defendant The Judge held that a landowner’s duty in respect of a tree on her land, which fell onto a railway line, had extended no further than the carrying out of periodic informal or preliminary observations or inspections, in the absence of any trigger or warning sign. There was nothing that should have alerted her, or put her on notice, that the tree was anything other than healthy, or required a closer inspection by an arboriculturalist. Coulson J reviewed the authorities relating to fallen trees and set out the principles relating to a landowner’s duty at para. 68 of the Judgment.

The claim against the second defendant tree surgeon also failed on the grounds that he had never been asked to consider the safety or health of the tree when he had worked in the first defendant’s garden. Accordingly, he owed not duty of care to the claimant railway company to warn of any structural instability of the tree, which would not have been apparent to him without carrying out a close inspection in any event.