Court of Appeal Rules Rugby Club Not Liable for Player’s Personal Injury

The Syston Rugby Club has won its appeal against a finding by the lower Courts that it was liable for a club members knee injury, which was sustained when he fell on a broken cricket stump embedded in the ground during a training session (Sutton v. Syston Rugby Football Club, CA, 20/10/11).

At first instance the Court held that the club should have operated a walked inspection of the pitch prior to training sessions, and not just matches as stated in the RFU Risk Assessment Guidelines, and that particular attention should have been paid to try zones.  As a result the player had been exposed to an unreasonable risk of suffering personal injuries.  The club appealed on the basis that had a walked inspection taken place the hazard would not have been identified and the accident would not have been prevented.

The Court of Appeal agreed that a walked inspection should have taken place in order to identify foreign objects, but found that had one taken place in this case the stump would not have been identified as it did not protrude above the pitch surface.  The Court also stated held that the trial Judge at first instance should not have distinguished between the pitch and try zones, and that it was unnecessarily complicated to do so.  In order to allow desirable activities such as Rugby to go ahead whilst still avoiding unnecessary danger, all that was required was for a match official to inspect the whole pitch at walking pace to identify any obvious dangers.

This case highlights the difficulties that can be faced in establishing causation.  If an employer, occupier, or other person owing another a duty of care has breached his/her obligations the injured party is only likely to receive compensation if they can show that the breach caused the accident, or failed to prevent it, and that actual loss in the form of personal injuries was suffered.

Cases involving personal injuries sustained during sporting events require analysis by a specialist Solicitor, as liability issues can be complex where a player has voluntarily participated in an event with an inherent risk of injury.  If you have been involved in an accident during a sporting event call David Mayor or any of our Personal Injury Solicitors for a free consultation on freephone 0800 975 2463, or contact us by email for free expert legal advice.

David Mayor

About David Mayor

David is Head of the Preston Office's Civil Litigation team and deals with all types of private Civil Court disputes. David’s blogs cover his expertise in all aspects of personal injury law from low value Road Traffic Accidents right through to complex large loss claims. David also writes and has a vast array of experience in Public Liability (trips and slips), Employer's Liability (accidents at work), and Motor Claims (motor vehicle accidents, pedestrian accidents).
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