Following a hearing before the House of Lords today (31 July, 2003) the Welsh Rugby Union have been denied permission to appeal to that court against the judgement made on 13 December, 2002, in favour of the Llanharan 2nd XV player Richard Vowles.
Having also failed in the Court of Appeal, the WRU , whilst disappointed at the decision will abide by the judgement made by Mr Justice Morland in the case. The matter will be discussed at the meeting of the Union's new Board of Directors on Thursday, 7 August.
The value of Mr Vowles' claim has yet to be determined and will be the subject of further investigation by both parties and it is currently to early to speculate about its potential value.
THE HISTORY OF THE CASE
The Respondent, Richard Vowles was playing hooker for Llanharan 2nd XV against Tondu 2nd XV at Llanharan Dairy Field on Saturday 17th January 1998. Mr Evans, an experienced Welsh Rugby Union referee and practicing solicitor, refereed the match.
Early in the game, the Llanharan loosehead prop had to leave the field. He was replaced by a back row forward who had limited experience of the front row. Llanharan declined the referee's invitation to proceed with non-contested scrums. In injury time, and in what was likely to have been the last scrum of the match, Mr Vowles suffered a severe injury which left him paralysed when the packs failed to engage properly, although the scrum did not collapse.
The case brought by Mr Vowles was against the Welsh rugby referee David Evans, the Welsh Rugby Union Limited and Llanharan RFC.
The case was first heard by Mr Justice Morland in the Swansea County Court, where Justice Morland found in favour of Mr Vowles and held Mr Evans and Welsh Rugby Union were negligent but not Llanharan RFC. Justice Morland concluded that the lack of training and experience of the replacement loosehead prop was a significant contribution to the mistiming on engagement.
The WRU took their case to the Court of Appeal, London, where the Master of the Rolls, Lord Phillips, sitting with Lord Justice Clarke and Lord Justice Sedley, delivered Judgment after hearing two days of submissions on 24 and 25 February 2003.
The Court of Appeal dismissed the Appeal made by David Evans (1) and the Welsh Rugby Union (2) following the decision of Mr Justice Morland who found in favour of the Llanharan 2nd XV player Richard Vowles on the issue of liability.
NOTE: As a result of his severe injury, Mr Vowles received a payment of Â£91,000, the maximum available pursuant to the disability insurance cover provided for all 239 of its member clubs by the Welsh Rugby Union. This payment was received on September, 1998.