Club Liabilities

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Martyn Hartley
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Club Liabilities

Post by Martyn Hartley »

Had an interesting discussion last night at our Club Exec. As it is fast approaching the holiday season, we were discussing hire/loan of Club Kit. We were particularly thinking about Club members borrowing kit to use on family (not Club) holidays. What (if any) liability does the Club have if said paddler does something foolish or otherwise gets into trouble?

Any thoughts?

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MarkB
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Re: Club Liabilities

Post by MarkB »

I've hired from NW Kayaks and Brookbank and they would have had no idea other than my word for my skills or otherwise. I may have been asked about them subtlely or explicitly, I can't recall. Maybe try Mark @ Brookbank to see what he thinks?

My club is as cautious as any but still hires out it's kit to members for their private use.
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Steve B
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Post by Steve B »

The club has a responsibility to ensure that the kit is serviceable when loaned out, but that's obvious isn't it. The other thing is I would caution against lending stuff to under 18s. If your older juniors want to take away kit, the parents should sign for it.
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Dave Thomas
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Post by Dave Thomas »

We sometimes lend kit to individuals for a nominal charge for non-club activities. I do sometimes wonder - does the club (or its representatives) have a 'duty of care' to (a) ascertain what is planned, and (b) advise against any declared plan which is clearly unsafe? This is the pragmatic approach I tend to use - apart from anything else, it helps to give some feel as to whether kit will return in one piece. And if (b), should it lead to (c) decline the loan of the kit?

So lets say a 1* club member asks to borrow a set of kit 'because my partner and I are going to the Alps on holiday and I fancy doing some paddling'. Leaving aside the fact that it sounds as though roller skates might be more useful this summer anyhow, I guess most people would advise that the idea is on the face of it not very sensible. If the advice is ignored, then so be it. But if the advice is ignored using kit knowingly loaned by the club, where does the club stand when it all goes pear-shaped?

Is it better to ask no questions, on the basis that ignorance absolves one from responsibilty? Or does the duty of care arise from lending the kit in the first place?

Dave Thomas

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Adrian Cooper
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Post by Adrian Cooper »

All sounds great Dave until it all goes wrong. Do you have a written record of all the questions asked, a detailed itinerary for the trip, instructions for its use and repair etc etc. As a club we do lend kit FOC to club members on the basis that it is returned in the same state it was borrowed at the member's risk. Any discussion as to what they might do with it is just an aside. After all once they have walked out of the door with the boat on their shoulder you have no control over the activity.

'I'm taking it to the Dart' OK but what if they are 2* standard and decide to change from the Loop to the Upper, the water levels increase dramatically beyond 'normal' levels, they decide to take in the Plym whilst they're down that way. There really is nothing you can do.

Whatever happened to 'assumed risk'?

Adrian

Dave Thomas
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Post by Dave Thomas »

Adrian, my point is: it seems unlikely that you can be held accountable under 'duty of care' for what you don't know about (whether because you haven't asked or because plans have changed). But could you be held accountable for effectively abetting a foolhardy/dangerous activity which you did know about, by lending kit. In other words, I'm not looking for protection from having the answers to queries (whether oral or written) but rather whether the possession of such answers (if sought), together with the lending kit once in possession of those answers, could constitute breach of 'duty of care'.

Dave Thomas

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Adrian Cooper
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Post by Adrian Cooper »

Yeh, get your point Dave. Is the answer therefore to ask no questions? :-)

Adrian

Steve B
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Post by Steve B »

There is certainly a duty of care re the equipment itself.

There is probably a duty of care to lend it only to responsible people.

There is definitely no duty to police what they do with it once they're out of the door.
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Post by paddlersteve »

Duty of care revolves around...

...you owe a duty to those around you not to cause them harm by your acts or omissions...

and that you should

...take reasonable steps to avoid/prevent foreseeable harm...


You DO have a duty of care regarding the equipment you lend (ie it is safe to use it for what it was designed for)

You DO have a duty of care to control the use of your club's equipment. With regard to this there are a number of issues to consider:

You are lending the kit to a club member, hence they should be aware of the inherant risks of the sport (do you have a membership form or declaration that states as such?)

An adult borrowing kit could reasonably be expected to know this, a junior member perhaps not. A guardians signature in this situation would be advisable. An absolute beginner again perhaps not, hence you could stipulate that anyone wanting to borrow kit must be of a certain standard (eg 2 star, 3 star or you could even give them a formal presentation regarding what they need to be considering as long as it fits with current accepted best practice)

Most importantly is some brief advice that you should give people before they take equipment:

"BEFORE you take to the water ensure you have sought advice from all relevant parties regarding your activity." This covers equipment, standard of paddle, weather etc etc in fact any other variables other than what you have given them

The easiest way to manage this would be a simple equipment borrowing form that states what you are providing, and what is expected of the borrower in return. This could also include what they would be liable for if the kit was damaged or lost.

By getting them (or their guardian) to sign it, your pretty much in the clear from what I can see. You have made a declaration that the kit is in good condition and that they are expected to make all other arrangments. If they sign it and don't read it, it's not your problem, if they read it and ignore it its not your problem, if they seek advice and still get in trouble its not your problem.

You can offer advice feel free to dish out out, but the important thing to remember is, "seek further advice from relevant parties before hitting the water"

I'm a firm believer that duty of care and risk assessment issues should not limit activity. It is there to protect us from undue harm, not stop us carrying out what we love doing. The flip side of what I've said above is that by protecting your own back and telling them to seek advice, if they do so, the likelyhood is, they are better prepared and less likely to have an accident.

In clubs I have run, I would have no concerns lending gear out having developed a procedure to do so.

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rob brown
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lending kit

Post by rob brown »

paddlersteve wrote
A guardians signature in this situation would be advisable.
unfortunately this may not be worth the paper it was written on. This is because you would have to prove in court that the guardian also had an acceptable knowledge of the sport/dangers etc. If they didnt then how can they sign to say they accept the dangers? Think about poor old teachers who get in trouble when school trips to adventure centres go wrong. Surely the guardians signed a permission slip then?

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Martyn Read
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Post by Martyn Read »

I woudn't have thought u had any duty of care other than that the boat was in a suitable condition.

Shops don't check what you're going to do before then sell u a boat.

Martyn

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Permission slips

Post by paddlersteve »

Yes, they will have signed permission slips. But teachers don't get in trouble for accidents happening, they get in trouble when it is deemed they are negligent. There are plenty of cases of accidents occuring where there is not blame to lay.

In relation to lending out kit, A parent / guardian should already have signed to allow their child to join a club. In this case they do not necessarily have an understanding of the sport but they should have been made aware that the sport has certain dangers associated with it. Signing to borrow kit would merely be an extension of this.

Where you really start hitting problems in this area deciding who can act as a guardian and what proof do you ask of them that they are a guardian. I bet not many of them carry round their "I'm this childs guardian" ID cards!

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Post by Steve B »

Steve, I was with you all the way until you started saying things like:
you could stipulate that anyone wanting to borrow kit must be of a certain standard (eg 2 star, 3 star or you could even give them a formal presentation regarding what they need to be considering as long as it fits with current accepted best practice
and especially:
BEFORE you take to the water ensure you have sought advice from all relevant parties
I'm sorry, that is (a) faux-legal hogwash, and (b) could actually make things worse, because you have undertaken an additional responsibility, to instruct them on the use of the equipment.

Even a near beginner could legitimately use paddling kit on a holiday beach in the summer. Very few people could use it on the Upper Dart in spate. How can you impose a star test requirement on that? The idea is ridiculous. And "relevant parties" - er, who?

Decide whether these are people you want to lend kit to. That could be based on paddling skills, character, past experience (in the sense of e.g. did they return the last lot in good order?). If they're under 18, apply the same test to the parents, and lend the kit to the parents not the child. I tend towards not over-protecting capable experienced youngsters, but you do have to be careful with this. Make sure the kit is ok, just as you would for a club trip. Don't overcomplicate things, the more rules you have, the more you will need.
Steve Balcombe

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Martyn Read
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Too hung up on it?

Post by Martyn Read »

Are we all getting too hung up on this issue?

Are people really concerned with lending kit out in case someone has an accident? and they're held liable?

I just feel that we're looking at this from the wrong angle.

Regardless of duty of cares and alike, we all want to make sure that people are aware of this risks, and advised accordingly. Reading this thread makes it appear that some of you only care to cover your own arses.

For example if I became aware that person x was planning a trip that for them was high risk (beyond their abilities etc), I would advise them the same whether they were paddling a club boat or their own.

Finally it seems to me things are ticking along ok. Has anyone heard of anyone being held negligent? BCU insurance has never been claimed against for example. This suggests that common sense is prevailing and there's no need to get too hung up. Just use your common sense, and get out there boating!


Martyn

Dave Thomas
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Post by Dave Thomas »

Well - its another good Friday afternoon thread, isn't it!

Speaking for myself (and I didn't start the thread) I'm not 'hung up' about lending kit or covering backsides, more just thinking around possible problem areas and whether or not they need to be tightened up. If I got 'hung up ' about every issue such as this, I would not be involved in running a club - and I dare say the same is true for most of us!

From time to time, something happens when running a club which - while not generally even a 'near miss' let alone a claim on the BCU policy - concentrates the mind and leads to a review of procedures. I don't actullay remember this happening yet regarding borrowing of kit. However, one does occasionally get some fairly bizarre approaches from new members - of the 'I want to learn to kayak so that I can paddle solo round the UK' variety - and it does no harm to be at least mentally prepared for the hypothetical follow-up 'Oh, and can I borrow a boat to do it in'.

To pick up on some of Martyn's other points, I agree that the advice I might be inclined to give would be independent of whether it was a club or a personal boat that was being used. And also that a 'light touch' and common sense is best, rather than risking discouraging boating.

Dave Thomas

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Post by Chas C »

Repeating some of what Steve has already said, the Canoe Club I'm involved with takes the same view.

a) There is a duty of care re the equipment itself.

b) There is a duty of care to lend it to responsible persons.

c) There no duty to police what they do with it once they're out of the door.

Equipment is only loaned to adult members or to parents, all of whom pay a nominal fee to use the kit (as we would also do on a club night) and they are responsible for replacement/repair if required.

As the club does not hold kit which is unsuitable for use a) above is covered (but kit is checked before every loan).

I my opinion (for what its worth) you do not need to do any more than that.

Chas

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