The claimant Ball lost the sight in one eye when he suffered an accident using farming machinery owned by the defendant Street. Ball had hired Street for the use of his hay mowing and bailing machinery. On the day of the accident, Street was not present but had consented to Ball using the machine. Ball adjusted a coil spring on the machine prior to use, which fractured and ricocheted into his eye.

Ball’s action for damages for personal injury against Street was based upon an alleged breach of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998. The Regulations require an employer to ensure that work equipment is maintained in an efficient state, in efficient working order and in good repair. These regulations also apply to any person who is not an employer, but has control over the equipment or the people who use it or the way in which the equipment is used.

At trial the judge found that the regulations were applicable. Street had been engaged to provide his services and machinery to Ball, and had the requisite control under the regulations over the machinery because Street had been specific as to who could use the machine and where and when it could be used.

However the judge went on to find that it was not foreseeable that Ball would suffer the injury, as the ricochet of the coil spring into Ball’s eye had been an unfortunate and freak accident. Accordingly the judge found there was no breach of the obligation on the part of Street under the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.

Both parties appealed the decision. Ball appealed the finding that there was no breach of the regulations and Street cross-appealed on the basis that the regulations should not have applied.