Lesley Jackson, a 13 year old school girl, alighted from a clearly marked school bus and proceeded to cross a rural two way road from behind the bus.

Lesley began to cross the road and was struck by a car when crossing the westbound carriageway.

She was projected over the roof of the vehicle and landed behind it. The driver estimated that he had been travelling at 50 mph and stated that on seeing the minibus he had not slowed down at any time, that he had not thought that there would be children crossing the road at the time, and that he had not seen Lesley until the moment of impact.

The Judge, at first instance, ruled the principal cause of the accident had been the teenager’s recklessness in attempting to cross the road without taking proper care to check that the road was clear to allow her to do so. He believed it appropriate to find her 90% contributory negligent for the collision.

This case was first appealed to the Inner House of the Court of Session with three Judges presiding. The apportionment of blame was reduced to 70% on the part of Lesley. They held that the Judge at first instance placed insufficient regard on the age of the young girl at the time of the accident and that greater stress should have been placed on the driver’s actings.

This case was appealed again to the Supreme Court and heard in front of five Judges. They believed the appeal Judges had also been wrong to assess contributory negligence so high. They believed the driver of that car had been culpable to a substantial degree, and the girl’s contributory negligence should be re-assessed at 50%.

In their findings, they looked to the following points; Lesley was only 13 and a 13-year-old would not necessarily have the same level of judgement and self-control as an adult. The young girl had to take account of Mr Murray’s car approaching at speed, in very poor light conditions, with its headlights on. The court recognised the assessment of speed in those circumstances was far from easy, even for an adult. It was also necessary to bear in mind that the situation of a pedestrian attempting to cross a relatively major road with a 60mph speed limit, after dusk and without street lighting, was not straightforward, even for an adult.

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