Waivers – are they worth the paper they are written on?

JYoungBy Jennifer Young , Litigation Associate

Francis Hanna & Co Solicitors

Summer is upon us and we, as parents, will no doubt have been considering what we can do to keep our children fully occupied during the holidays.

waiversGone are the days when children seemed happy to play in the garden and build a tree house. Nowadays it seems that only the latest, most exciting activity or summer scheme will do.

As we and our children are presented with more and more exciting and challenging activities to choose from,   these activities are likely to carry with them more and more risk.

As a result, activity providers increasingly require us to sign waivers to prevent claims being made against them in the face of a nasty injury, or at worst death.

What is a Waiver? 

A Waiver is a contract between two parties which allows the person or organisation providing the activity (‘the activity provider’), to obtain the signed agreement of the person carrying out the activity, that they will ‘waive’ or forgo their right to make a claim for any injuries sustained by them or their children whilst taking part in the activity.

For example, a trampoline park may require you to sign a ‘waiver’ before your children will be allowed to make use of the trampoline facilities.  Your refusal to sign a waiver may result in you or your child being prevented from taking part.

Understandably this puts great pressure on parents who do not want to disappoint their children but who are also concerned for their children’s safety and their rights in the event of an accident.

Are there consequences to signing a waiver?

If you are worried about the effect of signing a waiver, fear not because under the Unfair Contract Terms Act 1977, an activity provider cannot seek to exclude or restrict their liability for death or personal injury resulting from negligence.

Therefore, for example, where an activity provider has not properly maintained its equipment and as a result of a defect in this equipment, an injury was sustained, then the presence of a signed waiver is meaningless.

Why then am I being asked to sign a waiver?

The answer is simple- it is because many people will be unaware of the Unfair Contract Terms Act 1977 and as a result, may feel that they have no rights against an activity provider in the event of an injury to themselves or their child when a waiver has been signed.

The desired effect is therefore to limit the number of claims an activity provider has to deal with, such claims being time consuming and costly.

Therefore, if you or your child have been injured while participating in an activity where you were required to sign a waiver, and you believe the accident could have been prevented by the activity provider, it is important to seek expert legal advice because a signed waiver will not always restrict you from seeking compensation.
If you would like more information on this area, please feel free to contact Jennifer on jyoung@fhanna.co.uk or leave us a comment below.



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