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Judgment handed down in landmark noise exposure case

Judgment was handed down today by Nicola Davies J in the case of Goldscheider v Royal Opera House [2018] EWHC 687 (QB), in which David Platt KC and Alexander Macpherson represented the Defendant at the two-week High Court trial in February.

The judge found that Mr Goldscheider had suffered from the condition of ‘acoustic shock’ after playing the viola at a rehearsal of a Wagner opera in 2012. She also held that his condition had been caused by the Opera House’s breach of statutory duty under the Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005. In particular, she concluded that the Opera House should have enforced the mandatory wearing of hearing protection in the orchestra pit at all times.

The decision has far-reaching implications for the classical music sector. The Opera House’s evidence was that many musicians are unable to wear hearing protection all of the time when performing because of the artistic demands of performance. It was argued that encouraging musicians to wear hearing protection when possible was all that it was reasonably practicable for the Opera House to do in these circumstances. The judge disagreed and held that there was “no distinction between a factory and an opera house“.

A copy of the judgment can be accessed here. Active consideration is being given to an appeal.

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