We're told to sign them every time we do any sort of
organised activity that could be considered risky such as clubs or
schools teaching surfing, horse riding, abseiling, bungee jumping,
whitewater rafting, skiing, rock climbing or hang gliding.
"Sign this waiver before we start," they say - thrusting
a paper with legalistic phrases in front of us. Try to say
'hold on, I want to check this out,' while kids are crying
to get going and you'll ruin the day. So we sign hoping nothing
But are we signing away all claims for restitution should the
equipment break, the horse throw us off, or the canoe sink? Is the
company running the show now exempt from responsibility? The
answers could lie in Section 5N of the Civil Liabilities Act of
2002. It's not riveting reading, but it's worth knowing
A central theme within the Act is for individuals to take
greater responsibility for their own safety, and to limit the
liability that can be imposed on defendants in claims for property
damage, economic loss and personal injuries. If a person has been
appropriately warned of the risk in an activity or that the risk is
"obvious" and they then voluntarily and freely accepted
that risk, it may be able to avoid liability for the person who
provides the activity.
The Act was brought in after insurance costs soared for such
recreational activities and events such as fairs, camps, trail
rides and sport classes around the State were cancelled.
However, it is important to know that there are still legal
provisions that protect a person who signed a waiver if someone in
the organisation acted negligently or is guilty of misconduct.
While waivers offer a large degree of protection to the
organisation, each case has to be considered on its individual
merits, especially the circumstances of the incident. It's
important for organisations to have adequate injury prevention
strategies in place, and act on them.
For organisations who conduct risk recreational activities it
would be prudent to obtain legal advice as to how Section 5N can
help protect you and your business. Waivers do not get
organisations out of having to ensure everything possible is done
to ensure the safety of clients. It would be best to know your
Similarly, even if you have signed a waiver and are injured or
suffer economic loss there are legal avenues you can pursue and it
would be wise to consult a legal expert experienced in the
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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This was an interlocutory decision about the appointment of a tutor for the child appellant, to carry on his proceedings.
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