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Businessman who tripped over a car wins round one of fight with dealership

30 March 2020 - 12:00 By Belinda Pheto
A Cape Town businessman has won the first leg of his fight for a claim against a dealership that had parked a car on a pavement, causing him to trip and fall.
A Cape Town businessman has won the first leg of his fight for a claim against a dealership that had parked a car on a pavement, causing him to trip and fall.
Image: 123RF/Stockstudio44

Cape Town bylaws have helped a businessman claim for damages against a car dealership that parked a vehicle on a pavement.

Leonard Deacon, 59, was walking in 2014 and caught his right leg on the tow bar on a BMW 540i parked on a pavement. He tripped and fell.

Deacon’s counsel argued in court papers that a section of the city of Cape Town's parking bylawprohibited  the parking of a vehicle "on a sidewalk or in a manner restricting pedestrian movement on a sidewalk".

The vehicle belonged to Reeds Motor Group.

Deacon is claiming compensation from them for damages after he was injured in the fall.

A judgement handed down by the high court in Cape Town explained that the BMW was one of five or six vehicles parked on the pavement outside the showroom.

Deacon’s counsel argued that the city's bylaws prohibited the parking of vehicles on a sidewalk, or in a manner that restricted pedestrian movement on a sidewalk.

Judge Ashley Binns-Ward noted that it appeared the dealership had been granted what appeared to be an informal dispensation by the municipal authorities, permitting it to use the pavement to display some vehicles.

“The reason for the dispensation was that certain building activity being undertaken in the immediate vicinity had the effect of temporarily impinging on the internal showroom space available at the [dealership's] premises, as well as restricting access to a certain extent,” read the judgment.

However, there were certain conditions the dealership had to comply with, including that vehicles would be parked to leave at least one metre of the sidewalk free for unimpeded use by pedestrians. According to the judgment, this was not the case.

The judgment also noted that the vicinity in which the incident happened was busy as there was a bus stop and coffee shop nearby.

The dealership argued that no other person had, to their knowledge, been injured as a consequence of cars parked on the pavement, and it did not give rise to a dangerous situation. This had happened over several years.

The dealership also suggested that pedestrians like Deacon could have taken an alternative route, stepping off the pavement and walking around the BMW.

The judge did not agree and said the BMW should not have been parked in a way that presented potential danger to pedestrians.

Binns-Ward said Deacon had succeeded in establishing causal negligence on the part of the dealership so they should be liable, at least to a certain extent, for damages  he may prove.

Deacon won the first leg of his fight, with the court declaring the dealership was  liable to pay 65%  of the quantum of damages that may be proven during the second stage of trial.