Customer slips on piece of fruit


Slip and fall, supermarket, periodic inspection, failure to implement systems, reasonable precaution, factual causation.


The appellant suffered personal injury following a slip-and-fall incident at the respondent’s store, due to a piece of fruit which had been dropped on the floor of the store entrance.

Primary court findings

The respondent conceded it owed a duty of care to the appellant and admitted that a customer had dropped the piece of fruit at approximately 5.02pm. However, argued that it had reasonable inspection and cleaning systems in place at the time of the incident, including:

  • The “sweep log” conducted three times a day;
  • The “clean as you go” system; and
  • The “service zero” system of hourly calls for inspection and cleaning.

The primary judge found that the respondent had breached its duty of care by failing to conduct the “service zero” inspection at 5pm. The additional failure of the respondent to ensure the hourly “service zero” system included the front of store area was also a breach of its duty of care. However, it was held the breaches were not causative of the appellant’s injuries, because the fruit was dropped at 5.02pm, after the scheduled inspection. It was further rejected by the primary judge that employees of the respondent (Mr Cheong, the coffee-counter person, and “Stanley”) should reasonably have seen the piece of fruit between the time it was dropped and the time the appellant slipped.

Appeal issues

The Appellant challenged the primary judge’s findings on two main grounds:

  • Whether the primary judge erred in not finding additional breaches occurred due to two employees failing to identify and remove the fruit between 5.02pm and 5.11pm under the “clean as you go” system; and
  • Whether the primary judge erred in failing to find that the breaches of duty caused the appellants injuries.


Appeal dismissed. Bell CJ, Gleeson JA, and Adamson JA decision delivered 21 May 2024.


Appellant to pay the respondent’s costs.


The Court of Appeal agreed the respondent had reasonable systems of inspection and cleaning, including the “service zero” hourly inspections and the “clean as you go” policy.

The Court also found that the primary judge was correct in not finding additional breaches, as Mr Cheong was off duty at the time, Stanley was not responsible for the front of the store area, and there was no evidence as to the field of sight and quality of sight at the time of the accident for the coffee-counter employee. As such, it was considered there was no failure in their duties under the “clean as you go” system.

The Court further agreed with the primary judge that while the respondent failed to conduct the scheduled 5pm “service zero” inspection, this breach did not necessarily translate into a failure to detect the hazard that caused the appellants fall, as the fruit was dropped at 5.02pm, after any “service zero” inspection was to occur. As such, the breach did not cause the injury.

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