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A SCAFFOLDER who fell from a bunk bed on a North Sea oil platform has won a six-figure sum in compensation.

Robert Robb sued the international oil service company Salamis for £500,000 after the accident left him unable to work offshore.

Courts in Aberdeen and Edinburgh rejected his claim, but Mr Robb's legal team appealed to the House of Lords.

It found that the company had breached health and safety regulations and awarded Mr Robb an undisclosed amount, said by his solicitors to be a "substantial six-figure sum".

It is thought the case could pave the way for future legal challenges to the way health and safety law is interpreted in Britain.

Mr Robb, 41, from Aberdeen, was working on the Buchan Alpha platform in September 1999 when the accident happened.

As he got out of bed to start his night shift, he stepped on a removable ladder which had not been fixed safely within the metal retainers supplied.

The ladder gave way and he fell five feet to the floor, badly injuring his lower back and legs.

He returned to his job for two months, but his injuries forced him to leave and he has not worked offshore since.

He took legal action, but lost his case at Aberdeen Sheriff Court and at the Court of Session in Edinburgh.

Mr Robb then took his case to the House of Lords and five law lords have ruled that, although Mr Robb was 50 per cent to blame for the accident, Salamis breached health and safety regulations.

Welcoming their judgment yesterday, Mr Robb said: "I am absolutely delighted and it brings to an end a long, seven-year battle.

"As a scaffolder, the only place you can make good money is offshore, and since the accident I have only been able to work in Aberdeen, resulting in a loss of income."

Mr Robb was represented by Quantum Claims, of Aberdeen, which operates on a "no win, no fee" basis.

Frank Lefevre, the chairman of Quantum, said: "My three co-directors and I are ecstatic at this result for Mr Robb, considering how long ago the accident happened.

"It is a huge step for us to go through two stages of litigation at the company's cost and come to the conclusion, albeit on sound advice from counsel, that we have a case worth taking to the country's highest court," said Mr Lefevre.

"Taken together, we have funded in excess of £100,000.

"Success in Robert Robb's appeal is particularly sweet. This is the fourth appeal case we have taken to the Lords since I founded Quantum Claims in 1988, but it is the first to be successful, and with a sizeable award."

Another of Mr Robb's solicitors warned that the ruling would give the green light for other lawyers to challenge health and safety legislation in a new way.

Angus Stewart, QC, said: "I feel it is important to observe that the judgment has given the green light to all personal injury litigators in future cases to challenge the basis of UK health and safety law as it has been interpreted over the past 15 years."

The Court of Session found no breach by Salamis but said Mr Robb was only 50 per cent to blame.

Mr Lefevre added: "At the risk of being seen to disagree with this, it is interesting to note that Lord Rogers would have favoured a lesser percentage as the extent of the claimant's fault, while the four of us genuinely believe there was no fault on Robert Robb's part."

A spokesman for Salamis (M&I;) Ltd said the firm was unable to comment on the case.
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