Just entered a race. On the many boxes that I had to fill, one of them asked if I understood that the organisers are no responsible for any accident or loss etc. Now I generally take responsibility for my own actions but if I tick yes does that mean I have no rights if they are negligent in any way?


  • This is becoming more common. If you go to the US or Canada you'll find their disclaimers are worded in a way that say "even if you die because of our negligence you can't sue us."

    I don't know anyone who knows anything about insurance that thinks they're worth the paper they are printed on but I don't actually know what the legal position is.

    Perhaps someone will come along later who does. 

  • My position exactly. If it isn't worth anything then why bother with it? I think it was worded " Do you understand that the organisers have no responsibility for any or your losses or accidents?" well my honest answer was No I don't understand.
  • Under the Unfair Contract Terms Act 1977 a business cannot use a contract term or a notice (i.e. a disclaimer) to exclude or restrict its liability for negligence causing death or personal injury. In the case of other loss or damage, a disclaimer will only be effective so long as it is reasonable in all the circumstances. So as long as you can show negligence, or an at least an expectation that a certain amount of care was reasonable, you can still sue, even if you're dead image

  • MuttleyMuttley ✭✭✭

    Define "reasonable" -  it is the most elastic of words.

    I've always thought that it means, basically, "you can't pin anything on us beyond the very bare statutory minimum".

    Not quite sure what the bare statutory minimum responsibilities are to us, though. Hopefully someone cleverer than I am can explain.

  • 'reasonable' in a legal situation can only be defined by a Court of Law and will dependent on the specifics of each case. What may be reasonable in one situation, may not in another.

    As far as what we are required to do (if you mean 'us runners') then we would be expected to behave in a 'reasonable' manner. If any loss or damage could be demonstrated to be a result of an act we instigated, then 'they' would argue they were not at fault, even if negligence could be demonstrated. Again this could only be settled/defined in Court.  

  • Nose NowtNose Nowt ✭✭✭

    If a race was for 8-yr-olds, the organisers would have lots of responsibilities that are implied, rather than specifically written down in law.  So if a kid ran off a hidden cliff because they ignored a pre-race instruction to keep to the path, I suspect they would be held liable (if it was reasonably foreseeable)

    The judge MIGHT make a different judgement if an adult fell off the cliff in similar circumstances.

    As much as they'd like it, race organisers cannot absolve themselves from action if they are grossly negligent... but by getting you to tick that box, I think they are trying to remove ALL implied responsibilities...  so they can only be liable if they are particularly negligent.  They are moving  the reference point for any court judgement.

  • Next time I will copy and paste your explanation in the box Rafiki. To show them I understand their disclaimer.
  • There is the other end of the spectrum, which is probably the main reason for the disclaimer - if you left your bag at the bag tent for example, which is manned by volunteers and no one else was allowed in, and your phone was nicked, the organisers are saying they are not responible for that. Which i guess is reasonable???

  • But a disclaimer doesn't make reasonable unreasonable or the law not the law so what would be point of one at all? Surely all this is in place. You might want to remind people in your race blurb not to leave valuables as you cannot be held responsible for them but if they charged a fiver for looking after a bag and then lost it you might think they are liable.
  • I completely agree with you SR. How are you supposed to know what a disclaimer does and doesn't cover? 

    Rafiki - do you think this vagueness is a deliberate ploy to stop people pursuing claims that might actually be perfectly reasonable?

  • I guess from the kind of scenarios we are discussing, the disclaimer merely becomes an acknowledgement that you have read the T&Cs/race blurb and hence having your phone stolen was your own stupid fault (assuming the race organisers didn't leave it in the back of an open van in front of everyone).  

    But then again if we all ran races whilst listening to music on our iPhones, instead of foolishly leaving them in our bags, my point would be moot!

  • In the RW online form, the next box says "have you read the terms and conditions"
  • Screamapillar - I don't think its deliberately vague, but more necessarily vague. The point raised by Runwales sums it up. You can't legislate for every scenario (mainly because life progresses quicker than legislation!), so you have to leave room for judgement.

  • HellywobsHellywobs ✭✭✭

    Basically, if the organisers are negligent, they are liable for death or personal injury.  It's actually a criminal offence to use disclaimers like this and I wish they'd stop.  I would say something like "please make sure you are fit and healthy before you do the race" and stop there.

    As for the rest, well it has to be reasonable.  The view of reasonable will differ but if you want to get a view of what a court would say, have a look at the OFT's website.

  • RicFRicF ✭✭✭

    Something called 'Due Diligence' would probably cover the organisers.

    If they can 'prove' that they have taken all reasonable precautions then they can't be held responsible for the actions of others operating outside of those precautions.

    'Due Diligence' may simply extend to saying 'NO IPODS' on account of not hearing the marshalls instructions. If you don't hear the marshall shout "mind that lorry, stop!" and you get flattened, then they cannot be held responsible for your accident.

    On the other hand, if for some reason the course sends you over Beachey Head, you may have a case. Or would have done.

  • On what basis is it a criminal offence to include a disclaimer hellywobs? Where did you get that idea from - a bloke in the pub? It's not illegal at all (or else UKA and the FRA amongst others wouldn't require things like this!).

    However, as has been stated, an organiser can't exclude liability for anything caused by the negligence of the organisers or their staff, but they can exclude liability for the stupidity of many runners (and believe me, many are stupid in different ways on race days - I've seen it all over the years) who act outside of what a court would deem to be reasonable. Conduct has to be "reasonable" on both sides of the fence - competitors have a duty of care to the organisers, other runners, spectators and road users - a lot of runners seem to forget this responsibility when they put their running shoes and a race number on!

  • I think the basis is "The Unfair Contract Terms Act" It is possible to limit your liability for things that are reasonable. What is reasonable depends on a number of tests. It is illegal to limit  liability for death or Personal injury due to their negligence. 


    Thornton v Shoe Lane Parking (1971)

    This case (Thornton v Shoe Lane Parking 1 All ER 686) demonstrates that for an Exclusion clause to be incorporated into a contract, other than by explicit agreement, the affected party must be given adequate warning. Mr Thornton parked his car in a commercial car park. The car park did display a sign to the effect that cars were parked at the owner's risk. As it happens it was Mr Thornton that was injured, not the car. The car park's terms of business were printed on the back of the ticket issued from the ticket dispenser but, it was ruled, this did not form part of the contract as the contract was concluded before the ticket was issued. The notice on the building was deemed insufficiently precise to allow a disclaimer of liability for injury. This case was one of many in which Lord Justice ` I-hate-exclusion-clauses' Denning used the rules of incorporation to defeat exclusion clauses that mitigated against consumers. These days such technical manoeuvres would be unncessary, as a contract term disclaiming liability for personal injury would be deemed void under the UnfairContractTermsAct1977.

  • One event organiser's disclaimer includes thd following:

    " this waiver includes any claims, whether caused by negligence, the action or inaction of any of the above parties, or otherwise."

    I know they can't simply refuse to accept responsibility for any damage which their (hypothetical - this race organiser has always struck me as being a good one) negligence might cause. I suspect they know it. Yet they still require all entrants to sign. Which is annoying.
  • Annoying is right. We all know it's bullshit so why do they persevere with it. Cut the crap now!!
  • They can simply refuse to to accept responsibility for any damagetheir negligence might cause...but only to the extent which is reasonable. It is only illegal if they try to restrict liability for death or personal injury resulting from it. Been a while since I studied this stuff but from memory some of the tests of whether it would be reasonable or not included.

    - Was it clearly brought to the parties attention

    - The bargaining strengths of the parties involved

    - Was it within the contemplation of both parties


    I believe the persevere with it because most people assume they are bound by it and so do not challenge it. in other words, they get away with it.

  • Magic Roundabout, I wasn't clear because I didn't want to post the whole disclaimer - death/personal injury are listed in the types of harm they require you to sign away any claim for.

    I suspect the reason for these disclaimers isn't as calculated as some here are suggesting. I suspect they're there because many race organisers are enthusiastic runners organising races cos they think race idea X would be awesome. They've learnt how to organise races by entering races and seeing what works. They've always had to sign a disclaimer, so that's simply seen as how it's done and copied.
  • Personally I think Magic Roundabut is nearer the mark. I think they like to think that a  waiver will prevent people raising a challenge, even if it has no real teeth.

    I have to say that my OH and I refused to sign a waiver like this once when we were in Canada. It was for white water rafting and we simply felt that it was far too risky a pursuit to attach this sort of waiver to, especially in a foreign country. We told them they must be joking and asked for a refund.

  • Maybe I will email the race organisers and ask for a refund. I didn't agree to the disclaimer on the form. Would be interesting to see what the response is. Purely out of interest.
  • A disclaimer means you can accept responsibility for your actions and injuries but no disclaimer can mean that you cannot claim if your statutory rights have been infringed, such as your right to protection from a negligent act or omission.

  • But surely we accept responsibility for our own actions all the time? What bearing does a disclaimer have on this basic rule that if I punch myself in the face it's my own fault but if someone else punches me it's their fault.
  • A disclaimer cannot indemnify someone against criminal law. You can sign a contract with someone saying they can murder you, but if they do, they have committed a criminal offence, and the contract means nothing.

  • Found out I couldn't do the race after all due to being away from holidays. E-mailed them to ask about not accepting the disclaimer. Cheque came in the post today. Full refund. Seems they take their bit of nonsense quite seriously.
  • Aha we ahve found a way of getting refunds on races that we cannot do!

  • DustinDustin ✭✭✭

    not sure what the disclaimer actually relates to though, so maybe someone could help..

    As I see it, if I go for a 13.1 mile run on my own in training, should anything happen, I'm only covered to the extent of my own insurance policies. If I run in an 'official' half marathon, then not sure what the difference would be, or if I would need seperate cover. Sure the race organisers have insurance should a herd of runners cause an accident to non runners (motorists/pedestrians) but that is part of their insurance cover as part of our race entry, and not specific to me.

  • Whenever you run and a third party is involved there is a chance that their negligence could result in injury. That could be if race organisers set up scaffolding that collapses in the finish area or if you run on your own and fall down a hole left by some workers that wasn't marked properly. If, for example the scaffolding was set up by unqualified people then you have a claim. They could wave a disclaimer at you of course. Don't think it would count for anything in a court case.
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