A High Court judge has a flair for comic timing.

Obiter makes no comment on the rights and wrongs of an aborted £750,000 claim that passed through the High Court last week.

Mark Kay had attempted to sue a cleaning company for a fall in a shopping centre in St Helens, Merseyside, having previously told colleagues the accident had happened on holiday abroad.

Alas, there were no winners in this tale, with the claimant dropping his case, the centre’s cleaning company’s insurer Zurich failing to have him committed for contempt and the poor ATE insurer footing a £120,000 costs bill for the whole thing.

Kay’s injury was nothing if not fluctuating. During an unfair dismissal claim he had reported there was no impairment in his ability to work but by the time of his PI claim, the injury was apparently much worse. Curious indeed.

Obiter senses Mr Justice Turner was not entirely convinced by the case, despite turning down the contempt application. These two paragraphs from the judgment display a certain flair for comic timing: 

‘15. Also within the file was a letter dated 7 December 2009 written by Mr Thompson of [Kay’s former employer] CES to Mr Kay’s solicitors stating: “…your client advised us that he had injured his back whilst on holiday when he fell down some steps leading up from a beach …”.

‘16. There is no beach in St Helens.’

Mr Justice Turner knows his north-west geography: St Helens - a town famous for its glass-works not its coastline - is a good 20 miles from the nearest beach at Formby. Must have been quite some fall.