Query relating to running and liability

Hi I wonder if anyone can help?
We have a running club in South Manchester (as yet unaffiliated but this is around the corner) We regularly have 20-30 people turn up to our weekly runs. We do not charge anything. I know public liability is not a legal requirement.
Since we do not charge would it be possible for anyone to ever sue us if they had an accident whilst running with us. it is difficult to determine when we become an 'organised group' as opposed to a bunch of friends out running.


  • Does the club have a name, is there someone who organises runs, or keeps records of members (even if they don't pay)?

    Those things might make you a 'club' or 'organisation', I guess, but whether that's enough I don't know.

    It's always a risk that someone will take action against you if they had an accident.  Our ambulance-chasing culture, I'm afraid - if it wasn't your fault, it must be someone else's and you can get compensation! 

    Even if they didn't succeed, defending it could cost you a lot of time and money.

  • This is not a question that can be answered easily. But it is right to be thinking about this sort of thing.

    Does the club have a name and officers? Are the people who turn up "members"?

    What level of organisation and administration do you have?

    Obtaining PL insurance might not be easy if you are very informal.

    PL insurance for clubs should include specifically a member to member liability clause which gets round a contentious area of the relevant law in itself.

    Please bear in mind there is more to think about that ambulance chasing lawyers. What if someone was seriously injured which can happen. They could be rendered unable to work and requiring constant care. Now your into millions. Literally.
  • Bear in mind if you ask an Insurer, Lawyer, Solicitor or H&S person there is an inevitable answer, which is not always in the best interest of the person asking the question. Make your members understand and sign to acknowledge that if they require insurance they provide their own and that they accept the very minor additional risk that running in a club environment presents over running individually. Then keep your money for the club.

  • RicFRicF ✭✭✭

    I took part in an event that was mainly public roads and pavements where the police turned up. They clearly had the feeling that somehow this gathering was wrong but were stumped when the organiser pointed out that," its not a race, its just a group of individuals who have by coincidence all turned up in the same place and have all decided to set off for a run at the same time and going in the same direction. Not a race mate, see, no numbers either".

  • EG OK, I see where you are going but I'm afraid your advise is not good. making your members sign such a document would make matters worse in the event that an action was brought.

    The truth is you will probably be ok, there will probably be no accidents and if there are there is unlikely to be any action.

    If you want to chance it then chance it completely do not try and avoid liability by way of a disclaimer.

    RicF, civil law and criminal law are quite separate issues.
  • Clearly we disagree, I would do it as many events now do this, Hellrunner, etc etc, it's not something that would be required so I personally would avoid the jobsworth mentality and go ahead

  • From what I understand though, no club insurance provides personal injury cover which is what the OP alludes to?  If people wish to take out personal injury cover then that is down to them. 

  • EG OK, if hell runner have a disclaimer that requires you to consent to the risk of entering it doesn't stop you suing them in the event that a participant is injured as a result of their negligence.

    Happy chap, personal accident and public liability insurance are quite different things.
  • If I sign a waiver I sign to acknowledge that I understand the miniscule additional risks over and above the norm associated with the activity I am choosing to do IE running with a group as opposed to the known risks of running alone.

    By signing I am agreeing to run in the knowledge that (for example) I might trip over tree roots in a dark forest and break my legs to name one random incident.

    Having said that it would not stop a law suit if something negligent happens such as their office roof caving in on my head, but the point is a running club, taking to the streets will not have the issues, as such negligent possible events will not exist. I suggest this type of scaremongering is  responsible for some of our more ridiculous H&S stories that appear in the press.

    Understand your risk and understand what you ahve to do, don't be persuaded to do the unnecessary.

  • Sad state of affairs when people can't organize an informal running club without fear of being sued ... ffs.

  • EG OK, let's not loose sight of the question here.

    "would it be possible for anyone to ever sue us if they had accident whilst running with us"

    You will no doubt have noted that I didn't offer an answer, just raised some points for further consideration.

    The solution you offered regarding opproducing a disclaimer is still bad advise.

    I don't want to get too into the whys and wherefores of various possible senarious set out in a few words as there is always a lot more to consider when considering these issues, a judgement on a straightforward case will still run to many pages.

    Your stance on this is admirable and morally sound but sadly remains legally incorrect.

    I can assure you that there are plenty of lawyers around who would take a case in circumstances where an individual was injured in a group participation activity and regardless of anything else this would cause major inconvenience and a fair few sleepless nights.

    Don't get stuck into me I'm trying to help, it's the lawyers that profit and the judges with a lack or real world experience that have created this ridiculous situation.

    I don't agree with it but I do know something about it.
  • Muttley, more than sad it's f'ing tragic but that is the world we live in.
  • I said earlier we agree to disagree - my advice is to avoid the need to go to insurance, and it always will be

  • If you're just a bunch of friends with no legal status and you cause/are involved in an accident, who would they try to sue? You have no leader or committee and in most cases you could all say you weren't there.

  • You cannot exclude liability for personal injury/death arising from negligence.

  • UFO is right, if you have no chairman, committee, secretary or leader then there is no legal entity to sue.

    When clubs are sued the Claimant has to sue "Mr X in his capacity as chairman of X AC running club" or similar.

    But you described your group as a club which suggests some structure.
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