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Farmers welcome decision to overturn hill walker's claim for €40,000 damages
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Farmers welcome decision to overturn hill walker's claim for €40,000 damages

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A High Court judge has overturned a ruling which had raised concerns for farmers who allow walkers on their private land.
A High Court judge has overturned a ruling which had raised concerns for farmers who allow walkers on their private land.

The High Court has overturned a decision to award a hillwalker €40,000 for injuries she sustained when she fell on a boardwalk on the Wicklow Way.

The move has been welcomed by the IFA, which said the court’s decision should ease the concerns of farmers about people walking on their land.

Mr Justice Michael White dismissed the damages claim by Teresa Wall for €40,000.

She had sued the National Parks and Wildlife Service, which placed the boardwalk on the lands.

Ms Wall claimed she tripped and fell after her foot had caught in a hole in one of the old railway sleepers that made up a boardwalk on the Sally Gap to Djouce trail near Roundwood in Co Wicklow.

In 2016, Circuit Court judge Jacqueline Linnane found the National Parks and Wildlife Service, which placed the boardwalk on the lands, to be negligent. She ordered the NPWS to pay Ms Wall €40,000 damages.

Appeal

In its High Court appeal, the NPWS had argued that Ms Wall contributed to her injuries by not looking where she was going.

On Friday, the High Court found there was “high degree of negligence” on the walker’s part in that “she was not looking at the surface of the boardwalk when she fell”.

Pat Dunne, the IFA’s hill committee chair, said: “The finding that an onus exists on the walker to have a duty of care is an important recognition from a landowner’s perspective. This should help to ease the concerns of farmers.

“While the judgment relates to property owned by the National Parks and Wildlife Service, it also has relevance for private landowners, mainly farmers, where hill walkers ramble off designated routes,” he added.

Dunne continued: “Public liability insurance cover is provided to private landowners who permit waymarked walking trails to be developed across their land. The commitment in the programme for government to increase funding to €4m and bring in an additional 2,000 farmers must now be acted upon.”

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