This recent UK civil case is about the death of David Hoyle. Sadly, he was killed when a Cherry tree uprooted during foul weather and struck his car as he was driving along the A287 in Hampshire, UK.
There's a short article about the Judgment in the Local Government Lawyer.
Here's the Judgment:
Hoyle v Hampshire County Council
The claim was successfully defended. From a tree risk perspective, it looks like key parts of the defence were:
1 Tree Risk Strategy
Like the recent Parker v The National Trust Judgment, Hampshire County Council had a Tree Risk Strategy and followed it.
2 Tree Benefits
The Strategy included the benefits from trees. The Judge makes a particular note about the benefits from trees when balancing them with the risk.
3 Obvious Tree Risk Features
Most importantly, the tree had no Obvious Tree Risk Features.
The Claimant's Evidence
The Claimant's expert is Jeremy Barrell. We find some of his evidence alarming.
An edge tree with an asymmetric crown is described as a defect. It isn't a defect. It's a normal feature.
An edge tree with a lean is described as a defect. It isn't a defect. It's a normal feature.
An edge tree with a lack of root 'buttressing' on the sheltered side is described as a defect showing a lack of roots. It isn't a defect. It's a normal feature.
The tree was risk assessed as part of a Drive-by Assessment, 16 times in the previous 16 months.
In the year before the tragedy, the tree was risk assessed twice by qualified Arborists. A Countryside Department inspection of the tree, and a Highways negative inspection of all the trees on the A287. Neither Arborist regarded the tree as having a risk that needed reducing.
Reasonable, Proportionate, and Reasonably Practicable
That this Claim made it to court, and David Hoyle's family and friends have been led to believe that his tragic death could've reasonably been avoided is concerning.
Tree Risk-Benefit Management Strategy
From the tree's description in the Judgment, we can't find any reason why the tree justified a Detailed Assessment. The tree didn't need a closer a look, so the expense of carrying out a Detailed Assessment doesn't look like it was reasonable, proportionate, or reasonably practicable.