Public Liability

Resources:

Queensland Civil Liability Act 2003

UIAA Report – Current liability issues relating to mountain sports

Washington State Legislature – rock climbing anchor exception (see section 4.24.210)

Fallas v Mourlas [2006] NSWCA 32 (16 March 2006)

Waiting for Romeo – climber-oriented view of public liability from Gordon Brysland

Comments:

In Washington State they clearly understand the problem –

Finding — 2003 c 16: “The legislature finds that some property owners in Washington are concerned about the possibility of liability arising when individuals are permitted to engage in potentially dangerous outdoor recreational activities, such as rock climbing. Although RCW 4.24.210 provides property owners with immunity from legal claims for any unintentional injuries suffered by certain individuals recreating on their land, the legislature finds that it is important to the promotion of rock climbing opportunities to specifically include rock climbing as one of the recreational activities that are included in RCW 4.24.210. By including rock climbing in RCW 4.24.210, the legislature intends merely to provide assurance to the owners of property suitable for this type of recreation, and does not intend to limit the application of RCW 4.24.210 to other types of recreation. By providing that a landowner shall not be liable for any unintentional injuries resulting from the condition or use of a fixed anchor used in rock climbing, the legislature recognizes that such fixed anchors are recreational equipment used by climbers for which a landowner has no duty of care.” [2003 c 16 § 1.].

 

In section 19 of The Queensland Civil Liability Act  we see –

No liability for personal injury suffered from obvious
risks of dangerous recreational activities
(1) A person is not liable in negligence for harm suffered by
another person as a result of the materialisation of an obvious risk of a dangerous recreational activity engaged in by the person suffering harm.
(2) This section applies whether or not the person suffering harm was aware of the risk.

This may seem clear cut to the non-legal mind, but a quick scan of the judgement, Fallas v Mourlas [2006], handed down in the Supreme Court of NSW (the Queensland legislation was modelled on the NSW legislation) shows that the legal interpretation need not be straight forward.