Last updateTue, 24 Feb 2015 5pm

David Sawtell summarises the law relating to assumption of risk

It would be sensible to expect someone who is injured sliding down the banisters in a pub to face considerable difficulty when trying to bring a claim for damages. For the most part this assumption is right, as recent cases in the High Court and the Court of Appeal have shown. However, when an off duty army officer was injured jumping off a bridge into a river, he was able to successfully claim against the Ministry of Defence. Likewise, the owners of a climbing wall were able to evade liability when a customer fell jumping across a gap, but the owners of a gymnasium were found liable when someone did a forward somersault into a wall. The difference between these cases is that the successful claimants were able to show that the defendant had assumed responsibility for their obviously risky behaviour. The difficulty for practitioners is predicting whether or not a court will hold that someone has ‘assumed’ this responsibility, or instead that the claimant was the sole author of their own downfall.


Additional Info

  • Case(s) Referenced:

    Barrett v Ministry of Defence [1994] EWCA Civ 7

    Fowles v Bedfordshire County Council [1995] PIQR P380

    Geary v JD Wetherspoon plc [2011] EWHC 1506 (QB)

    Grimes v Hawkins & anor [2011] EWHC 2004 (QB)

    O’Shea v Royal Borough of Kingston-upon-Thames [1995] PIQR 208

    Radclyffe v the Ministry of Defence [2009] EWCA Civ 635

    Tomlinson v Congleton Borough Council & ors [2003] UKHL 47

    Trustees of the Portsmouth Youth Activities Committee v Poppleton [2008] EWCA Civ 646