– By Glen Pearce

When a woman was injured after a slip and fall accident at a major shopping centre, she missed out on potential damages of more than $300,000. Why? Because even though the Court found that a cleaning company’s negligence had caused the accident, the woman had sued the shopping centre rather than the cleaning company.

This case demonstrates the importance of making a thorough investigation before taking any legal action to ensure that all the relevant parties are joined as defendants.


In 2009, the woman was at the Westfield West Lakes shopping centre (Westfield) with her husband and children. She slipped on some liquid on the floor and fell. She broke her ankle, cut her hand and suffered extensive bruising. She needed surgery on her ankle and then suffered further complications which were long term.

The day of the accident was hot and the shopping centre was busy. In the half hour prior, about 350 people had walked through the place of the accident.

The area had also been cleaned about 3 minutes before the accident. There was CCTV footage of a cleaner mopping the floor and then the mop falling off the cleaning trolley onto the floor.

The woman took legal action and eventually, five and a half years after filing her claim, the case went to trial.

The Court had to decide what had caused the woman to slip and whether Westfield was liable (legally responsible).

The cleaner was employed by another company, Reflections Cleaning (Reflections). At the time of trial, Reflections had gone out of business and so the woman didn’t make a claim against it. Her claim was against Westfield only.

Westfield said that it wasn’t liable for the accident and that the woman should have made a claim against Reflections.


The Court found that there was a very detailed agreement between Westfield and Reflections to provide top quality cleaning services. The agreement also required Reflections to take out extensive insurance and to compensate Westfield for any injury claims made against Westfield.

There was no evidence that Reflections was properly insured, but even where a company had gone out of business, a person can still take legal action against the company’s insurer.

In slip and fall cases, occupiers (in this case, Westfield), must have an adequate inspection system in place and must also take reasonable care to ensure public safety.

The Court concluded that the cleaner had been negligent because when the mop fell off the trolley, the cleaner hadn’t properly cleaned up, leaving liquid on the floor. Westfield couldn’t have known about this.

The contract between Westfield and Reflections was very specific. The Court found that Westfield had exercised much care and skill in selecting Reflections as its cleaner and that cleaning the area every 20 minutes was reasonable. On that basis, Westfield wasn’t liable for the accident. Because the woman hadn’t made a claim against the cleaning company, she was unsuccessful in her legal action. This was despite the fact that the Court had calculated her entitlement to damages to be more than $300,000.

What does it mean?

This case is significant because the woman’s legal action didn’t include Reflections, or Reflections’ insurer.

Because Reflections had gone out of business, there may have been a view that that door had closed. But there also may have been a real opportunity to pursue the insurer. The problem was that neither party had put any evidence before the Court about whether Reflections had even carried relevant insurance.

So we don’t know how this case may have otherwise panned out. The Court did note that neither party:

  • Called any Reflections workers as witnesses.
  • Asked the Court to issue subpoenas so that they could access business documents from Reflections.

This case demonstrates that for any legal issue but especially one involving injury, it is essential that proper investigations are made before launching court action. An experienced injury lawyer should meticulously prepare a legal action and make thorough enquiries to ensure the best possible chance of success.

Had the woman in this case joined Reflections (or its insurer) to her legal action, she may have been successful in her claim.

Websters Lawyers has an outstanding team of lawyers practising in all areas of injury law, including slip and fall cases. Contact us today for a free first interview, and be sure to enquire whether a no win no fee arrangement can apply to your case. Because the sooner you act, often the better off you’ll be.

Stringer & Stringer v Westfield Shopping Centre Management Co (SA) Pty Ltd[2017] SADC 35





call now

*Conditions Apply


Having such a short time frame I was very impressed with the outcome made by [my solicitor]. Excellent and timely manner


Kurralta Park

Very professional mannerism and overall great outcome was delivered by Websters Lawyers.


West Ryde NSW

Helpful, explained fully, patient, excellent service.



Patient and helpful in explaining the process.



Call Websters Lawyers for a most professional and friendly service. All understanding with [my solicitors] and the reception staff. Thank you so much.



Making my will was effortless on my part, with everything explained clearly. Well done to all.



Great service, professional, explains things clearly, definitely recommend Websters Lawyers.


Upper Hermitage

Patient, professional, good communication about procedures and probable outcomes.



Thank you for all your work over the course of the case. You [both] were always very approachable and I appreciated your understanding and professionalism in all areas.


Christie Downs

All in all my experience was great. Thank you for your time and expertise.


Seacombe Gardens

My matter was dealt with efficiently and was explained in an understandable language. A pleasant experience.



Practical and very helpful. Reasons and explanations given where needed



I stumbled across Websters in the Yellow Pages and I rang, explained my situation and immediately they took my case on. Greatly appreciate their services.



The service from Websters Lawyers was outstanding. [My solicitor] was caring, had patience and was very professional. Wonderful personality.



[My solicitor] made everything so simple to understand. [The receptionist] was wicked too, would recommend them anytime. Level of entire service was outstanding.


Golden Grove


I had dealings with Websters over 20 years ago. They were my first choice when I recently needed legal advice. Both legal and office staff were professional, courteous and accessible at all times. Everything was explained up front in a clear and concise manner. I would not hesitate to recommend their services.



It has truly been a pleasure communicating with you throughout the process. I really appreciate your patient and speedy replies to my questions and requests. You were always able to provide an easily understood response and this helped me deal with the process. Your friendly and positive manner encouraged me to seek your advice.


Battery Hill QLD

[My lawyer's] service was prompt and efficient with all questions explained clearly with all our requests carried out within the laws. Overall service was very satisfactory.


Wynn Vale

[My lawyer] was excellent. 



Excellent service. Professional. Clear advice and instructions. Prompt actions. Overall 10/10!


Ingle Farm

Overall, I was happy with my outcome and my lawyer, would definitely recommend [my lawyer].



[My solicitor] was excellent at helping us through preparing our wills which were particularly challenging as they involved assets in multiple countries. She was professional and knowledgeable and spent time tailoring the wills to our needs.



[My solicitor] was very helpful, respectful and polite. She made sure I understood the process and documentation of our wills.



Professional. Smooth Transaction. 


Largs North

I found the whole experience from Receptionist to Solicitor excellent. They completely put us at our ease.



This was a new experience for us and didn’t have a clue what to do. [Our solicitor] on our first visit put us at ease, explained what will happen, pointed out there was a strong case. [Our solicitor] was genuine in her approach, kept us well informed, explained actions several times with patience and understanding. Overall very happy with the service we received.


Elizabeth Vale

[My lawyer] was very reassuring in her approach to my case. I felt that every possibility in terms of evidence to provide and possible outcomes were explained to me, The result of the case was the best possible outcome I could have expected.

David, Belair


With no previous dealing with the criminal justice system, [our solicitor] gave us excellent advice and guided us through a nightmare to achieve a just and correct outcome. [Our lawyer] was both forthright and compassionate in her handling of our case.

Malcolm, Belair

[My lawyer] explained all the legal terms in language I could understand – she was very easy to talk to.

Cameron, Munno Para

I felt confident knowing my matter was in good hands. Very professional!

Shravan, Christie Downs

Initial phone call was fantastic and the role of an executor was fully explained.

Penny, Henley Beach

The service I received was efficient and promptly finalised. The solicitor clearly explained the details and I was happy with how easy it was.

Dale, Fairview Park

[My lawyer] was exactly the lawyer I needed in a serious matter. The outcome was as predicted which was a fantastic result. I received prompt professional and personal service at all times. Capable and supportive in a very stressful period.

Jason, Munno Para West

I had any of my concerns answered to my satisfaction and understanding.

Valda, Ingle Farm

[My lawyer] is an excellent professional lawyer who assisted in achieving a great positive outcome/result. I sincerely thank you and your great staff for your assistance and guidance throughout my claim. Would highly recommend [my lawyer], staff and Websters Lawyers. Kept fully informed and guided, professionally throughout the matter.

Rena, Northgate

Our work was dealt with very efficiently and speedily. Our lawyer was very professional, at the same time as being approachable. Communication was great.

Christina, Highbury

My experience with Websters Lawyers was far beyond what I expected. From the moment I spoke to [my lawyer] she made me feel very comfortable and eased my stress. In my case I had a court appearance the day before we were scheduled to fly to Spain, Considering my first appointment with her was only 2 weeks before the court hearing, she was able to obtain the police statement and thoroughly work on my case within that limited time frame. She was very knowledgeable, understanding and confident which greatly relieved so much pressure from me and my family. At court, she explained everything thoroughly and advised me of all the possible outcomes. Price, service and result, very highly recommended. Thank you Websters Lawyers.

Rafael, Davoren Park

I have high expectations and they were met. Websters service was swift, courteous, professional and met the agreed budget. I will recommend Websters to my family, friends and colleagues. Thank you.

Peter, Forestville

I would recommend Websters Lawyers, especially for [my lawyer's] dedication and exemplary attitude and advice. She is the epitome of a good lawyer. The service was impeccable.

Pamela, West Lakes

[My lawyer] was very professional and I was made comfortable to understand.

Gregory, Penfield

I was very pleased with the end result and how well [my lawyer] conducted herself.

Sonya, Glanville

Very professional.

Jesse, Morphett Vale

[My lawyer] has been very prompt , reliable and provided a high level of communication.

Peter, Parkside

My experience at Websters was very positive. The stress was taken from me and I could not be happier with the outcome. [My lawyer] at Websters was professional, personable, available and caring. Thank you for making the experience stress free.

Magda, Holden Hill

Found my lawyer upfront and reliable – I would highly recommend Websters Lawyers.

Lee, Evanston Park


Top bunch of solicitors and admin staff. Very friendly and to the point service.

Bradley, Hallett Cove

Websters Lawyers were very professional in their service, I would be happy to recommend them.

Carole, Tea Tree Gully

We would not hesitate in recommending Websters for any legal matter. They are professional and courteous at all times and call back when they say they will.

David and Dianne, Lockleys


I fully recommend Websters Lawyers. This was the 3rd time myself & my family have used Websters Lawyers. In these stressful times we have found them to answer and guide us through the process needed to accomplish the legal requirements in a timely and courteous manner.

Dianne, Lynton

Solid, to the point, no hustle. Highly recommend.

George, Windsor Gardens

Contact Us

Adelaide Office :
T: ( 08 ) 8231 1363
F: ( 08 ) 8231 5529

Ridgehaven Office :
T: ( 08 ) 8395 8000
F: ( 08 ) 8395 8222

Smithfield Office :
T: ( 08 ) 8487 0150
F: ( 08 ) 8395 8222

© Copyright 2017 All Rights Reserved
Website By A to Z Marketing