Video transcript – Civil case scenario part one

Screen title: Civil trial, Episode 1

Screen title: Judge O'Neill, Head of Common Law Division

His Honour Judge O'Neill: This is a workplace injury case. And it involves, obviously, a security guard who's at a venue as a crowd controller, and things get out of hand with a patron. And she's brought this proceeding against her employer, saying that she wasn't properly trained to cope with the events which transpired.

Drunk patron: I'm not part of the party, what's your problem?

His Honour Judge O'Neill: And also, for not doing a proper security assessment. And she also brings the claim against the company which operates the venue where this party took place. So there are two defendants in this case: one, her employer; and one, the owner of the property.

Woman: He pushed her over.

His Honour Judge Chris O'Neill: And she alleges negligence. That means that someone has failed to take reasonable steps to ensure the person, in this case, who works for the employer, is protected against the risk of injury. And in the case of the venue operator, it's negligence, also. They failed to take proper steps.

Drunk patron: Hey, hey, hey, hey!

Security guard: Excuse me, you're gonna have to--

Drunk patron: Are you part of the party?

Security guard: You're gonna have to give it quiet, mate.

Drunk patron: Will you let me in, please?

Security guard: You're gonna have to leave these patrons alone, you're gonna have to move on.

Drunk patron: Oh, all right, all right. I wasn't bothering anyone, okay? You chose to ruin my night.

Screen title: Lizzie O’Shea, Solicitor

Lizzie O’Shea: I brief a barrister on behalf of the client. But obviously the barrister owes` duties to the client, as well. But I'm like the go-between. So I take instructions from the client, and then I tell the barrister about that and prepare the material so the barrister can go and speak in court and present it

Plaintiff's barrister: The liability is contested

Lizzie O’Shea: So the judge can make a good decision.

Screen title: Min Guo, Barrister

Min Guo: And a lot of the work that lawyers do, whether you're a barrister or a solicitor, is to advise your client and tell them about the risks that they have, whether their case is any good or not. And if their case isn't good, then the role of the lawyer, whether it's a barrister or a solicitor, is to be frank and honest and give the client that advice.

Plaintiff's barrister: There are no guarantees we'll win, even if our case is very strong.

Min Guo: So that then the client can decide whether they want to continue with the case, or whether to withdraw from the case completely, or maybe whether to settle the case and compromise a bit.

Lizzie O’Shea: So there can be sometimes a bit of back and forth between the barrister and the solicitor. And sometimes we have differences of view about how best to run the case.

Plaintiff's barrister: The owner may not be a helpful witness for us. We need to think carefully about if we call her.

Plaintiff's solicitor: I think we should call her.

Lizzie O’Shea: We try and knock things out in partnership and work as a team. But my job really is also to be the voice of the client to the barrister to make sure that their interests are always represented accurately and fairly, and that the barrister is always thinking about what's in the best interest of the client.

Screen title: Fiona Spencer, Barrister

Fiona Spencer: So, anything that the client tells you, you owe a duty to them that it's confidential information. So, you are not able to tell anybody about that information. What you can't do, for example, if they make some admission to you about some aspect of the case-

Security guard: I was explicitly told not to follow any patrons down the street.

Fiona Spencer: What you can't then do is stand up in court and say the opposite.

Plaintiff's barrister: Your Honour, Miss Holloway says that she never received any instruction on following patrons down the street.

Fiona Spencer: So, you've got a duty not to mislead the court. So in putting your clients' cases as best you can, you can only do so within the limit of your instructions and what you're told by a client in a way that doesn't in any way mislead the court.

Min Guo: When a plaintiff is bringing a claim in negligence, the first thing they will need to establish is whether there was a duty of care between the plaintiff and the defendant at all.

Plaintiff's barrister: Did you understand what your job was going to require you to do at the security firm?

Security guard: I would be security at various venues that

Min Guo: Generally, whether there is a duty comes down to whether the defendant was able to reasonably foresee injury as a result of something that he or she or it did do, or perhaps didn't do. And if there is reasonable foreseeability of injury, then that generally points towards the existence of a duty of care. Here, the situation with our security guard and the security company, that's a bit simpler, because there's an employee-employer relationship. And that's one of the relationships which are generally recognised to give rise to a duty of care. But even though there is a duty of care, it doesn't mean they're going to necessarily succeed, because if there is a duty, the next question is, what is the scope of that duty? And so what that means is, what exactly was the defendant required to do to prevent reasonably foreseeable injury?

Fiona Spencer: The negligence, or the breach of duty, must be a cause of the injury that the plaintiff security guard sustained. So it doesn't have to be the sole cause, but it needs to be a cause.

Woman: Here, let me help you.

Fiona Spencer: So, in this case, there's a number of aspects of the breach. One of them is a failure to adequately train the security guard in the performance of her duties. Another alleged breach is that there wasn't a plan in place to deploy more security guards or to call for backup. There, in my opinion, might be an issue as to how that's causatively linked to the injury.

Drunk patron: I don't wanna go to a different bar.

Fiona Spencer: Another one is a failure to have a risk assessment. Again, I think there could be some issues in this case about how any risk assessment is causally related to the injuries that the plaintiff sustained. In other words, how a risk assessment might have prevented the injuries that the security guard ended up sustaining.

Drunk patron: Is there something wrong with me to you?

Security guard: Nothing wrong with you. It's just a private party.

Drunk patron: I don't need this from you.

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Page last updated: 21 September 2020