Persons may incur civil liability where he causes loss and damage to another in circumstance which is foreseeable. A person is liable for the tort of battery which is the deliberate imposition of force.
Questions arise in the context of sport and participation as to what extent liability may arise. Some sports are inherently dangerous.
Most courts have taken a view that the ordinary principles of negligence should apply. It is likely that reckless and deliver action will breach the duty of care and that will be outside of scope of work of the participant consent.
It is well established that participants in a sporting contest owe a duty of care to other contestants. This is objectively defined in the circumstances. In defining the duty regard is had to the rules (customs and convention). The action must exceed the higher threshold in order to constitute actionable negligence. Liability is unlikely for a mere error of judgement or lapse.
Some personal injury raise criminal issues. It is not possible to consent to the imposition of serious bodily harm. Accordingly, this may lead to criminal liability for the person inflicting the harm irrespective of consent.
Consent operates as a defence to injuries and damage to a certain extent. There may be an limit to the implied consent. In certain circumstances the law limits the extent to which a person may consent to serious personal injuries.
The extent of the consent will depend on the rules in context of the sport. In most sports a person does not consent to the deliberate intentional of reckless infliction of injury. To some extent it may arise in the context of boxing which is considered below.
It will be relevant whether the incident took place during the course of the game and its within its scope. The question of consent would not arise here,
As with civil liability, a certain degree of consent applies for matters outside the scope of the game. Certain common patterns of play may be implied to be the subject of consent, notwithstanding that they breach the rules of the game.
There are limits to implied consent. It is not possible to consent serious by the injury.
Fighting involves consent to intentional and deliberate infliction of force. In the 19th century, the courts held that prize fighting to be illegal because there is a breach of the peace. This is contrasted with boxing with gloves in a structured match in accordance with rules.
In order to determine to what extent, the duty of care and implied consent arises, it may be necessary to consider both the rules and also the culture of the game. Courts have held that frequent and infractions may be part of the ordinary risks of the game.
The issue of vicarious liability of clubs, schools, coaches may arise. Vicarious liability may arise in the context of employment. It may also arise where one person is under another’s control.
In McComasky and McDermott, a rally driver was sued following injury, by a co-driver. The Supreme Court indicated that the duty of care owed by the defendant to the plaintiff was the driver must act as a reasonably careful competitive rally driver would be expected to drive in the prevailing circumstances.
The duty of care will depend on the entire circumstances. This will include the nature of the sport, its rules and regulations, generally accepted custom and practice, inherent risks in the game, use of protective equipment or its absence, fact in particular circumstances, skill levels, knowledge of rules, game cost and availability of precautions.
The Civil Liability Act provides that the defence of voluntary assumption of risk applies where there is a specific waiver of rights in respect of the act concerned. Some kind of communication is necessary from which it may be inferred that an assurance has been given by the plaintiff to the defendant that rights have been waived. This requires more than a simple participation in circumstances of risk.
A number of high-profile cases have involved 50-50 tackles, causing catastrophic injury. It was only in exceptional cases of serious negligence and mis-judgment where a claim may succeed. Mistakes on the pitch in such situations are not sufficient.
Different approaches have been taken. In some cases, virtual recklessness is required even to found a claim in negligence. In other cases, circumstances has been found to be sufficient to justify liability for mistakes that are not unusual in the game.
Several cases have held that mistimed tackles are a feature of the game and that there must be something more in order to generate legal liability.
Tackling within the rules of the game, is likely to be the subject of consent. The risk is assumed for civil liability purposes.
In Condon v. Basi, a late high sliding tackle resulted in a broken leg case in a game between high-level professional soccer players. The Court of Appeal held that there was a breach of the duty of care and the claim was allowed.
The Court of Appeal in Caldwell v. Maguire & Fitzgerald held that careless riding was a breach of duty in circumstances where it caused the horse to dismount another jockey causing very serious injury. The negligence went beyond an error of judgment or oversight or a momentary carelessness.
Golf balls pose the risk of occasional personal injury. The visibility of persons is relevant. It may be negligent to hit a golf ball in cases where persons are visible, depending on circumstances. The mere fact that persons are visible at a certain point and conceivably could be hit at a considerable distance would not of itself be sufficient to constitute negligence in taking the short.
The question is whether the golfer has acted reasonably in playing a particular shot, with or without giving a warning to persons in the vicinity. The more dangerous the golfer is in terms of his lack of control, the higher the duty. Whether or not the persons who may be hit are visible is highly relevant.
However, rules of etiquette of golf require the persons should not take shots before others ahead of them on the course are out of range. In this case, if a person is hit and injured, finding of negligence is more likely.
Participants may be liable for injuries to spectators. This has occurred in cases involving rally driving and equestrian sports. To some extent, the spectator assumes a certain amount of risk. Many cases involving injuries to spectator are the subject of liability on the part of the organisers of the game rather than participants.
A referee may owe a duty of care to players to enforce the rules of the game, particularly those relevant to safety. Where a rugby referee was negligent in policing the rules of the game, he might be liable. However, referees will not generally have liability. There must be a grave failure of duty.
A number of cases in England have arisen from injuries in the course of rugby matches. Courts emphasise that referees would rarely be found to be liable for injuries caused during matches. But where the referee had acted negligently, was not in control of the game, failed to follow clear rules, and failed to follow safety rules, he may be liable.
Referees have been challenged on some occasions in respect of their interpretation of the rules of the game. The courts have tended to hold that the decision of the referee is to be final, unless something blatantly and appallingly wrong, occurred.
Equally, a referee would be owed duties by players and spectators in normal course.
Coaches owe a duty of care to those of whom they are in charge. The circumstances will determine the extent of liability. Football clubs have been held liable under general normal employment law principles for injuries to professional players. The negligence of the coach and manager may be attributed to the club, entity for whom it is and will be vicariously liable.
In some cases, players will rely reasonably on advice and regimes prescribed by the coach. If these are in breach of duty of care, such that personal injury, damage and loss ensues, there may be liability. Fielding a player in a game who is not fit and who may suffer injury may lead to liability for a club where it may result in long-term injury and loss to the player.
Where a coach departs from normal procedure and practice or takes on risks which are outside the scope of what is reasonable in his profession, then he and his club may be liable in negligence to players who thereby suffer personal injury.
A number of claims have involved cases against persons undertaking, arranging rock-climbing indoor and outdoor. The failure to take proper measures and undertake proper practices in terms of security, hoists and supports etc. may lead to negligence on the part of the instructor, coach or organiser etc.
The extent of the duty would depend on the relationship with the particular players or athletes. Young and inexperienced persons would be owed a greater duty as they will not usually have the same knowledge or maturity as equivalent older players.
Coaches who are hired to improve and develop athletes owe standard professional duties of care, under the terms of the relevant contract. It is unlikely that coaches would expressly or impliedly guarantee any results. If however the coach or trainer failed to keep up with latest developments and practices, attend appropriate courses, instruct and educate himself, then he may be liable in negligence or breach of contract.
The duty will depend on the circumstances. A higher duty will be owed in a professional context. A lesser or no duty at all might be owed in this regard, in an amateur context. There is unlikely to be a contract in such circumstances and the duty of care is unlikely to arise in schools or amateur games.
See separately the section in relation to liability and negligence of schools. Issues of liabilities and personal injury are most likely to arise in relation to physical education activity.
Children should not be required to participate in sports, which they are physically incapable of participating in. Care should be taken in requiring students to participate in sports which are inherently risky. If child is allowed as opposed to required to participate in a game which has risks, the school is less likely to be liable, depending on the nature of the activity, the child’s level of maturity, age and understanding.
Where there are faults in a premises or equipment, which cause personal injury, there is more likely to be liability. Generally, persons using sports equipment and premises are entitled to assume that the equipment is safe. There are duties of care in relation to the maintenance and inspection of equipment. The requirements are relative to the circumstances and the risks.
Schools which organise competitive sports should ensure that they are supervised.
Liability may extend to matters on the periphery where predictable incidents might happen. It may extend to unofficial pre-match and post-match activities.
However, unexpected and unforeseeable accidents and results may be beyond the duty of care. Some events are so unreasonable as not to be reasonably predictable.
The degree of supervision will be very much dependent on the circumstance, the degree of instruction that is reasonable to give or what is or is not apparent or obvious will depend on circumstances. Some activities are significantly more dangerous and riskier than others. There will be higher onus for supervision and instruction.
A sports body may be liable for negligence in the way it organises an event. In a famous case involving boxing match, a knocked out opponent was left a considerable time before a doctor was summoned and suffered brain damage. The British Board of Boxing Control was held to have a duty of care to the injured boxer and have failed to have dealt adequately with the circumstances.