I was interviewed recently by BBC Radio Surrey and BBC South Today TV on legal risks to businesses posed by a freerunning event due to take place on 4 March 2017 in Guildford.
This followed a notice issued by Guildford Borough Council and Surrey Police which read:
“There is a good possibility that following a large gathering a number of parkour free runners may attempt to take to the roofs of Guildford towns businesses and take part in free running activities. It is the responsibility of each individual business to take reasonable measures to prevent rooftop access. This is to mitigate any culpable liability should an injury or serious event take place following a trespass.”
Freerunning is an acrobatic and athletic form of recreation, practised in built-up areas. Practitioners navigate obstacles in the urban landscape using physical movement alone. Freerunning often takes place at ground level but can also involve the use of rooftops and traversing buildings.
The profile of freerunning was elevated recently, following the tragic death of Nye Frankie Newman, who died following an accident on the Paris Metro, on 1 January 2017. Nye was a freerunning enthusiast from Guildford, and the forthcoming event is said to be a commemoration.
The notice issued by the Council and the Police asks businesses to consider the civil liability which might arise from the event.
It is fair to say that businesses should always be mindful of the risk of being held liable for injury occurring on their premises, and steps should always be taken to secure properties against unwanted access. In addition, it is recommended that business ensure comprehensive insurance is in place to cover public liability.
That said, freerunning, particularly in its more extreme form, is an activity which carries inherent risk for the practitioner, and the courts are likely to be reluctant to attach blame to businesses should injuries be sustained from the activity itself.
If businesses have any queries they should seek legal advice, and Mark Ridley of rhw Solicitors would be glad to help.