In April 2019 the Court of Appeal issued its judgement in the case of Goldscheider v Royal Opera House.
This case concerned a viola player in the orchestra of the ROH who claimed that he had suffered hearing damage during a rehearsal. In March 2018, the High Court found that the ROH was in breach of duties under the Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 (the Regulations) and upheld Mr Goldscheider’s claim for damages for personal injury.
The ROH appealed, the hearing taking place in March this year. Our industry colleagues UK Theatre, Society of London Theatre and the Association of British Orchestras (ABO), were given leave to act as Interveners in the appeal, meaning that we were able to make submissions to the court regarding the potential ramifications of the case for the performance of live music more widely.
We were pleased to see that the Court of Appeal, while declining to overturn the liability decision in favour of Mr Goldscheider, upheld it on narrower grounds than the lower court, and overturned one aspect of the original judgment, in relation to mandatory hearing protection: “We accept the ROH’s case that it was not reasonably practicable for players in their orchestra pit to perform if they were to be required to wear PHPs [personal hearing protectors] at all times. We set aside the judge’s finding of a breach of Regulation 7(3), and the consequential finding at paragraph 212 of a breach of Regulation 10(1)”.
Other elements of the original judgment, however, remain in place, and members will need to continue to comply with the Regulations and refer to the HSE’s Sound Advice.
We will continue to consider the implications of the case and keep you informed of significant developments.