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TT course inspector allowed to continue with damages claim

Deemster strikes out ACU'S attempt to block civil case

A TT course inspection officer has been told he can proceed with his claim against his former bosses following a serious incident which he claims left him with psychological injuries.

The High Court of Justice of the Isle of Man has ruled that Shaun Counsell’s civil case against the Auto Cycle Union Limited and ACU Events Limited can continue.

That’s despite the two organisations' efforts to have it struck out.

The hearing was heard before Deemster John Needham, at Douglas Courthouse, on 28 May.

In a judgement, delivered on 4 July, Deemster Needham dismissed the argument from Auto Cycle Union Limited and ACU Events Limited which had been based on the application being out of time.

They also wanted the court to look at granting summary judgement in respect of the defendant’s limitation defence.

Mr Counsell was involved in a serious racing incident during a TT qualifying session on 30 May 2018.

It had been red-flagged due to a fatal collision at Churchtown; Mr Counsell had been tasked with transporting two police officers to the scene in a course inspection vehicle.

He’d claimed that he travelled in the normal direction of racing – having been told by race control that the other racers on the course had been ‘immobilised’ and it was safe to enter.

On the approach to Ballacrye Mr Counsell encountered a group of competitors who had been allowed by marshals to return to the paddock.

They were travelling, at speed, in the opposite direction to normal racing; the court heard he attempted to slow down, and was trying to warn others, when he had a head-on collision.

Mr Counsell suffered minor physical injuries but despite these was able to administer lifesaving first aid to the injured racer Steve Mercer.

In December 2022, more than 4.5 years after the collision, Mr Counsell submitted a claim for damages.

He claimed he’d later suffered an onset of post-traumatic stress disorder and other psychological injuries.

The claim was said to be in excess of the usual three-year limitation for bringing such action.

However Mr Counsell, who represented himself, opposed this argument saying the significance of his psychological injuries was not known until March 2020 meaning the claim was brought in time.

He produced a report from a forensic psychiatrist which said Mr Counsell had reported that psychological ill-effects had started during lockdown with ‘intrusive flashbacks’.

This included Mr Counsell seeing the racer’s eyes at the time of the collision and thoughts of suicide.

The doctor stated: "I would note that it is unusual, though not unheard of, for symptoms to occur after such a prolonged period of time i.e. two years."

Advocates for the Auto Cycle Union Limited and ACU Events Limited claimed Mr Counsell knew of his psychological injuries well in advance of March 2020 adding it was ‘fanciful’ to suggest otherwise.

However Deemster Needham ruled against the defendant's application adding they’d still retain the ability to defend the case.

He said that for proportionality there would be issues of the claimant’s own part in the collision to answer – in terms of speed and the manner of his driving – in the ‘fast developing situation’.

However Deemster Needham added the fact that riders had been allowed to travel, at speed, in the opposite direction to the course car tasked with attending the scene of an incident indicates that the claimant has ‘more than a thin prospect of success’.

You can find the full judgement HERE.

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