Event Operations Manual
Software for Club Treasurers

The Duty of Care

It is a legal and moral duty that events are made as safe as possible for all persons. In legal terms, this duty is known as the "duty of care" and although it is everyone's obligation, it falls particularly heavily on the shoulders of the event organiser.

If any person in an event (participant, spectator, official) is injured they may seek compensation (called "damages" in legal terms) by suing in a court of law. Whether any such legal action will succeed with depend on proving three points:

a) That the person was owed a duty of care
b) That there was a breach of this duty of care
c) As a result an injury occurred.

As an event organiser does owe a duty of care to all participants so the first point may not be difficult to prove.

To determine whether the event organiser has breached their duty of care, a court will apply a test of "reasonableness". This test will necessitate asking the question "What could the event organiser be reasonably expected to do (or not do) in the circumstances". For example, if someone was organising a soccer match could they be reasonably expected to crawl on hands and knees over every square metre before every game and check for sharp objects - perhaps not. However to admit that they did not carry out any pitch inspection and/or that they did not have any procedures to prevent sharp objects from being carried/thrown on to the field may be a breach of their duty of care.

If an injury occurs, legal proceeding result and a court of law finds that the conduct of event organiser was less than the standard regarded as desirable by the community, i.e. they did not have appropriate safety measures in place, then the court may find the event organiser negligent and liable to pay damages to injured parties.

Click here for checklist for spectator safety

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