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The legal liability of the sportsman for causing injury to a third party - Alec Samuels

11/10/19. In the course of engaging in his sport the sportsman causes injury to a third party. For a criminal conviction the prosecution will have to prove subjective criminal intent to injure or a reckless indifference as to whether or not an injury would be caused. For negligence the claimant will have to prove the duty of care, proximity, foreseeability, reasonable objective standards, breach, the typical common law claim. A mere error of judgment will not suffice Wooldridge v Sumner [1963] 2 QB 43, CA.

The sportsman is expected to adhere to the rules of the sport and the normal customs and conventions and practices expected in the sport, the culture of the sport. Following the rules is not necessarily a defence, just as a breach of the rules is not necessarily sufficient for liability, but compliance or non-compliance will be very significant. The evidence, the facts, will naturally be critical. Modern photography can often provide excellent contemporary evidence. The sport may be inherently “rough”, tackling being inherent in rugby and football; and usually strong young men, and nowadays even young women, are loyally striving to bring to bear their energy and strength and skill to win.

If the sportsman is or should have been aware that the opponents were novices or inexperienced then he may be expected to be particularly careful in such circumstances.

Every sport carries inherent risks, some greater than others. Boxing is a contact sport, the known intention being to knock out the opponent. Football, rugby and hockey are also contact sports. Cricket can send hard balls whizzing through the air, and a third party can receive a nasty blow...

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