Could festival toilets law be the hot new practice area of 2015?

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By Judge John Hack on

From Glasto to the Isle of Wight, banks of portaloos hide a potential minefield of accidents and personal injury litigation, says England’s newest lavatory law specialist


Music festival hazards usually involve knee-high mud, rude campers (or these days “glampers”) and blow-your-bonce-off skunk. But one lawyer is warning young and old festival-goers alike of the perils of “toilet injuries”.

“Festival toilets by nature are hazardous,” extols Tristan Hallam, a partner at national law firm Slater & Gordon, “and, in more ways than one, should be approached with caution.”

Indeed, Hallam appears to be carving out a niche as the country’s leading specialist in lavatory law at a firm hell bent on creating the first household brand name in the UK legal profession.

According to this cutting edge lawyer with his hand on the chain, anything can happen when going to the bog at a festival — and pretty much none of it is good. And what’s more when something does go wrong, festival-goers are unlikely to have a clue about what to do next.

Analysing on his law firm blog on the multiplicity of triggers for potential lavatory litigation, Hallam turned to recent history. He highlights one rock-chick at the Leeds Festival — “unfortunately dubbed Poo Girl” — who was reluctant to leave her handbag unguarded after being a victim of theft at a previous gig.

“Upon a visit to the portable toilet,” related Hallam, “her bag tragically swung from her shoulder into the toilet. Because of the important contents of her handbag, she leaned in to retrieve her bag and got her shoulders wedged and was trapped headfirst in the toilet until fire-fighters could rescue her.”

As uncomfortable an experience as that undoubtedly was for Poo Girl, at least she survived. Which, sadly, is more than can be said for a young boy who died after suffering head injuries from an exploding septic tank in a festival lavatory.

In his blog, Hallam pointed out that questions of liability can be tricky when it all goes wrong in a festival bog.

“Where there are generally numerous contractors present,” he wrote, “it is initially difficult to see who the potential defendant is.”

However, the lawyer went on to point out that “many festivals are run to such a high standard that a single contractor will be used to provide toilet facilities”. He continued:

“Of particular importance, and vital in a claim, is in obtaining as much evidence post-accident of the hazard, witness statement from friends of member of the public, photographs and even and detailed entry in an accident book are all going to be incredibly useful is establishing a claim.”

So the next time you dash to the portaloos to escape the shrill sound of yet another has-been band trying to resurrect its career, remember to have law firm contact details tucked inside the Wellies.