A judgment handed down by the Provincial Court of Córdoba on 5 June 2017 can serve as useful guidance when considering if the evidence a Claimant holds is enough to sustain his case against a business after having slipped on its premises.
This judgment refers in its conclusions to a judgment of the Spanish Supreme Court dated 31 October 2006. The Court determined then that, in relation to trips and slips occurred in buildings subject to the horizontal property regulations or in commercial premises, the community of owners or the owners of the business are liable for any damages and losses, provided their liability can be identified with an element of omission. In other words, they will be liable if they failed to monitor, maintain, signal, take care of or act with caution in connection with their premises.
The conclusions reached by the Provincial Court of Córdoba determine that it is the Claim who must prove how the incident occurred and that it has a causal link with the omission of the owners. In this case, the three witnesses that gave evidence during trial had fairly contradictory versions of what happened, which prevented the Court from giving judgment in favour of the Claimant.
The judges concluded that running a business such as a supermarket is not a risky activity, and therefore there are no grounds on which the burden of proof should shift from the Claimant to the Defendant. However, taking into account the applicable legislation on protection of consumers and users, the Court must be satisfied that the state of the premises is acceptable and does not put users at risk, provided the Claimant can prove the cause of the accident.
It is yet another precedent that confirms Spain does not have a strict liability system in place for this type of claim, which is a fairly common misconception.