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business and finance 83


MEMBER OF A SPORTS CLUB? ARE YOU LIABLE?


Michael Hall of Last Cawthra Feather solicitors examines the issue of claims liability in sports clubs.


compensation for loss or injury. Coupled with the effects of the current financial uncertainty, this means clubs and their members need to review their legal position. Many sports clubs are “unincorporated


I


associations”, so the liability of the individual member depends on the rules of the club. Many such associations have ancient rules or no rules at all. When joining the local golf club or rugby club the new member often forgets that someone is always liable for contracts entered into by that club or possible injury to third parties. The club is not protected by “limited liability”, and therefore it is either the committee and/or the members who will be liable for any claim against the club. Members who are invited to join the


committees of such clubs volunteer to assist in the management of the club to maintain and improve the facilities for themselves and other members. They may however be taking on greater personal responsibility than they realise. It’s not the first thing you think of when you join a club, but READ THE RULES. The rules can determine who is liable and also dictate how the rules can be changed.


n our “blame culture” society there is


an increased willingness to seek The constitution of a club, the rulebook


or deed of trust is an extremely important document but potentially has great power to determine the liability of the individual members. These are rarely reviewed on a regular basis and in many cases are simply outdated. All such organisations, particularly


charitable trusts would, do well to consider whether they should incorporate (i.e. become limited companies), to give some protection to the members. It may also better encourage those members best able to assist the club to sit on the committee or board, when they would perhaps not otherwise do so if that would incur them a greater personal liability for the debts and any claims against the club. Sports


clubs the are those who greatest potential for have claims. Any


organisation with a piece of land or building may have an asset but also potential liabilities for contamination. An example might be a golf club positioned next door to a river. Contaminated water flows through the land giving liability to members of the golf club for an environmental clean up, if the polluter cannot pay. Are you a member of a sports club? Are


you liable? YOU MIGHT BE – CHECK THE RULES! Are you a club in need of a review of its constitution? Michael Hall is a Commercial Contracts


and Sports Lawyer at Yorkshire Law firm, Last Cawthra Feather (LCF). Say hello to Mike at: mhall@lcf.co.uk


Mike Hall


OFFICES AT:


2 THE WELLS WALK, ILKLEY LS29 9HL Tel: 01943 601020 AIREDALE HOUSE, 128 SUNBRIDGE ROAD BRADFORD BD1 2AT Tel: 01274 848800 11–19 WESTGATE SHIPLEY BD18 3QX Tel: 01274 848800 JOSEPHS WELL, HANOVER WALK LEEDS LS3 1AB Tel: 0113 244 0876


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