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X ( a Child ) v Northampton Borough Council

This was a tragic case. The claimant was a young child who could not swim who attended a Council run swimming pool with his family. He became separated from them and minutes later was found lying motionless on the floor of the pool by a member of the public. He was resuscitated but sustained severe brain damage. The pool was overseen by 4 lifeguards.

A 1999 guidance document issued by the Health and Safety Commission adopted an international practice of dividing the pool into zones and each zone must be scanned every 10 seconds and the lifeguard must be able to reach an emergency in his or her zone within 20 seconds. This was known as the 10:20 system.

The case succeeded because the lifeguards employed by the Council had failed in their duty to monitor the pool properly.

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