06 October, 2015
In this interesting sports case (Thomas Bartlett v English Cricket Board Association of Cricket Officials (2015) CC (Wolverhampton) (Judge Lopez) 27/08/2015), a cricket player brought a claim against the English Cricket Board Association of Cricket Officials after he sustained an injury whilst playing in a cricket match. The player alleged that the match should have been called off because heavy rainfall had made the pitch unsafe. Prior to the match, the umpires had inspected the ground and found that it was not dangerous for play to take place. During the match, the player sustained an injury whilst performing a "sliding stop" technique.
At trial the Defendant was successful, the fact that the cricket ground was wet and slippery did not automatically mean that the ground conditions were dangerous. The umpires had made a detailed assessment of the conditions and were in the best position to accurately to determine whether it was safe to play. The players' safety had been a primary consideration in their decision-making process. Accordingly, the Association was not in breach of its duty of care owed to the player and the other players. The Court found that the player had in fact carried out the "sliding stop" incorrectly and that had caused the injury to the player's knee.
In this instance, the Court took a common sense approach by not imposing liability upon ECB. The case shows that the bar is set high for players who attempt to bring negligence claims against sporting officials. In this instance, it was rightly accepted that the umpires had no hidden agenda and were best placed to assess the conditions on the day.
For further information, please contact Sarah Wilkinson.