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Last Updated: Tuesday, 18 March 2008, 13:37 GMT
Woman fails in dog damages claim
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The case was heard at the Court of Session in Edinburgh
A woman has lost a 160,000 damages claim against a fellow dog owner after his black Labrador knocked her down.

Former lecturer Patricia Welsh was exercising her golden retriever in a field when she was struck by Neil Brady's bitch, called Ebony.

Mrs Welsh, 55, from Wellbank, near Broughty Ferry in Angus, suffered a dislocated knee as a result.

Judge Lord Malcolm at the Court of Session in Edinburgh described the incident as an "unfortunate collision".

He told the court that had he found in Mrs Welsh's favour, he would have failed to guard against imposing a "grey and dull safety regime".

The court must not contribute to the creation of a society bent on litigation which is premised on the illusion that for every misfortune there is a remedy
Lord Malcolm

The court was told that Mrs Welsh was walking her dog on 14 March 2005 when she encountered Mr Brady and his Labrador.

Her dog had met up with Ebony in the field and the pair, who were both off their leads, came running towards her.

Mrs Welsh said: "Ebony was faster and she ran into the side of my leg and kept going past me. The next thing I was on the ground."

Mr Brady, 34, denied liability, insisting his dog was "loving" and had been brought up as a family pet.

Free rein

In his ruling Lord Malcolm said the courts should take heed of a warning by Law Lord, Lord Steyn, that: "The court must not contribute to the creation of a society bent on litigation which is premised on the illusion that for every misfortune there is a remedy."

Lord Malcolm added: "Unfortunately for the pursuer (Mrs Welsh), for whom I have much sympathy, my conclusion is that reasonable attention to the safety of Mrs Welsh did not require Mr Brady to put Ebony on the lead when she and Cava came into view.

"The case is that by virtue of their physical attributes or habits, black Labradors are likely to injure severely or kill persons unless restrained or controlled.

"I suspect that for the general population, this proposition would cause much incredulity."

The judge warned that his ruling did not give all dog owners free rein to let their animals off their leads and said his findings related to this case only.



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