A woman who injured herself in Thailand when a wooden deck she was standing on collapsed has been allowed to present her case in NSW Supreme Court.
She was attending a cooking class at a hotel when the incident occurred, leaving her with a serious injury to her right shoulder. The woman filed a public liability claim against the operator of the hotel, alleging the organisation had been negligent in a number of ways.
However, the company attempted to stop the case from being heard in NSW, where the woman lives. Lawyers for the defendant argued that the plaintiff had signed a guest registration form when checking in at the hotel that forced her to pursue any potential legal proceedings in Thailand.
The woman didn’t deny signing the document but claimed she had completed the form after having been awake for approximately 22 hours. She also said the hotel did not make her aware that her legal rights would be affected.
According to the hotel operator, NSW court was clearly not the appropriate forum for the case because it would inconvenience a number of witnesses and the laws governing the incident are different.
Judge rules in plaintiff’s favour
Despite the defendant’s motion, the judge ruled the injury compensation claim could proceed in NSW court. Justice Davies claimed the organisation had not proven its argument of an inappropriate forum.
He ruled that witnesses would be able to deliver their evidence via video link if necessary. The judge also dismissed the company’s concerns with the laws governing the case.
“The defendant has led no evidence, and the onus is on the defendant in seeking the stay, to show there is any particularly complicated aspect to Thai law in relation to negligence or that it differs in a significant way from the law of Australia or that there are concepts novel to Australian law in relation to it,” he added.
Other factors that played in the plaintiff’s favour included the financial costs of having to travel back and forth between Thailand and Australia, as well as the difficulty of translating proceedings into English. Given that the defendant’s motion was dismissed, the firm will be forced to pay the woman’s legal fees.
“The defendant does not show that a trial in New South Wales would be productive of injustice to it, nor that it would be seriously and unfairly burdensome, prejudicial or damaging to it,” the judge concluded.