Anyone an 'officer' in a cycle club or similar sports club? Advice sought

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  • Anyone an 'officer' in a cycle club or similar sports club? Advice sought
  • Premier Icon grizedaleforest
    Subscriber

    I’m Secretary of a canoe club and have been prompted to consider my personal liability in this role.

    The club is very small and in truth is just a bunch of people who share a pool of kit and do the occasional informal ‘meet’. We don’t offer training or formal club activities. We don’t monitor competence and any member can do what they want with boats at their own risk (when you sign up for the club you sign a statement about risk to this effect). However we are affiliated to Canoe England from whom we get liability insurance.

    So my question is should someone die using club kit or in an informal club activity might I as an officer of the club find myself in front of a coroner? Might I even find myself subject to criminal proceedings?

    For canoeing, replace ‘cycling’, ‘sailing’ etc etc.

    Any thoughts?

    mcobie
    Member

    I’m involved with a cycling club, although only as the “social secretary” and “treasurer”. We do have ride leaders though.

    My understanding is that we have liability insurance so that if there ever was an issue it would fall onto the club, and not the officers/ride leaders. We are affiliated with British Cycling.

    Be interesting to hear others thoughts though…

    mattsccm
    Member

    WAs chairman, now secretary of a sporting motorcycle club. Running competitions including those on the road has some worries.
    Firstly do everything by he book that your governing body publishes. Never bend the rules for anyone. The old timers won’t like it but tough.
    Always risk assess by the book and where it isn’t suggested do it if possible.
    consider a test of competence for users of pool kit.
    We are looking at limited liability.
    I loath and despise all this arse covering. To me any adult has a moral right to absolve anyone else of all responsibility. Indeed it should be default but the money grabbing society of whingers who won’t take responsibility have control.

    Finally be aware that even all of the above will not stop some selfish so and so claiming so stitch things up tightly.
    Sad isn’t it?y.

    Premier Icon grizedaleforest
    Subscriber

    My understanding is that we have liability insurance so that if there ever was an issue it would fall onto the club, and not the officers/ride leaders. We are affiliated with British Cycling.

    That sounds similar to our setup. The liability insurance will cover you for a civil, financial claim (assuming you have ‘Directors and Officers’ insurance). But it won’t protect you from what might be a criminal case (or that’s my worry).

    Premier Icon 40mpg
    Subscriber

    I’m membership secretary of a mountain bike club, we have CTC affiliation which provides 3rd party insurance for the club and its officers, so if anything were to occur on a club ride (what constitutes a club ride isnt clear – ie if club members were riding together but vnot an advertiesed ride?) the club and oficers would be covered.

    There is a limit to non-members on rides though, max 3 per ride. Not sure how this would affect things if exceeded (probably has been) or how it would be proved or disproved.

    As gdf says above, criminal proceedings are an entirely different matter. If you’re not charging to teach / lead people, just canoeing together, then I would have thought little come back (unless you hold them under 😉 )

    Premier Icon aracer
    Subscriber

    grizedaleforest wrote:

    So my question is should someone die using club kit or in an informal club activity might I as an officer of the club find myself in front of a coroner? Might I even find myself subject to criminal proceedings?

    Only if you’ve actually done something wrong – which you won’t, will you? It’s not the same as a company which does have a duty of care to its employees – perfectly reasonable to expect people to look after themselves as part of a informal club. If you’re providing qualified instructors to lead stuff, then they need to be properly qualified etc. (and even then the situation is different for a club in terms of liability for things other people do wrong) but it doesn’t sound like you are. To take the best known example, if the Lyme Bay tragedy happened as part of a club trip I’m sure questions would be asked, but I doubt even then that a club officer would find themselves facing charges in court.

    FWIW I’ve been committee member of a canoe club – whilst that was a while ago I don’t believe the law has changed regarding this, and I’m fairly sure there isn’t actually an issue with this.

    oldschool
    Member

    Was a chairman of a canoe club, also affiliated to CE. My understanding was, that me and the secretary could be liable for any accidents if the event/club night/official trips was not run according risk assessments or without suitable supervisors (didn’t have to be coaches but ‘suitable’)
    If we lent suitable kit to someone, they signed for it and subsequently hurt themselves it wouldn’t automatically be our fault, however if a beginner asked to borrow kit to paddle a grade 5 river and we knew this and still lent the kit we could be deemed responsible in the event of an accident.
    There was a lot of paranoia about blame, liability, etc within white water especially, however most information came down to the same statement that is banded about at work. ‘as far as reasonably practicable’ You cant protect everyone, one all the time, from all risks. If someone is grossly negligent then ultimately that can person can be prosecuted regardless of position held or not.

    bikebouy
    Member

    Yup, I’ve been heavily involved with m sailing club, HISC, and for a number of years it was run under a committee basis then we moved to a Manager, committees still exist but these advis the Manager of members expectations.
    We do not off training, the RYA has many training courses but to include them within our club would have added many levels of regulation and we didn’t want that. The RYA do use the club for it’s training activities and they provide kit, we provide the facilities.
    We have had issues in the past where injury has occured, the committee and the commadore were liable but the insurance mitigated the effects.
    Its a minefield, we went through 2 years of pain understanding and complying with risk assessments and such..
    😐

    Premier Icon stever
    Subscriber

    I’m vice captain of our running club and have no clue about such things. I guess I should really. One of the races we organise is very closely scrutinised by Cheshire Athletics for their GP series. I’m just grateful someone else can drag themselves through that turgid stuff so the rest of us can get things done. We also have to turn away good juniors because they extra burden of officialdom is just too much, which is a massive shame.

    Premier Icon grizedaleforest
    Subscriber

    Thanks all. Food for thought that I shall consume this weekend!

    Greybeard
    Member

    I think you still have a duty of care. That means (as I understand it, and I’m not a lawyer) that you have to do what is reasonable to avoid harm to others. Reasonable is what others would do in a similar situation. So even if you have a club policy that people are responsible for themselves, if in reply to a question from a group of novices, you tell that they’ll be fine paddling a grade 4 river on their own, then you’ve failed in your duty of care. But if you tell them it would be dangerous for them, and they take the club boats and do it anyway, that’s their problem. You have a bigger duty of care to children than to adults, because they can’t be expected to take responsibility for themselves. I think if you fail a duty of care in non-commercial situation, you’d be at more risk of a civil claim for damages than a criminal prosecution. I think you’re outside the scope of HSWA and Adventure Activities Licensing
    (see http://www.hse.gov.uk/aala/are-you-a.htm)

    You might find it worth doing a search on http://www.ukriversguidebook.co.uk/forum/
    I know this has been discussed there.

    Premier Icon garage-dweller
    Subscriber

    I would suggest spending a few shekels on some proper legal advice specific to your circumstances. This area is a monster minefield of civil and criminal liability. It should not be but it is.

    IANAL but I do know the value of proper legal advice from a professional perspective.

    I was part of a new club and one of the other members, who knew about these things, suggested that we form as a limited company with directors and a company secretary. I can’t remember the exact reasoning, but I think it was mainly done to protect club officials from financial liability, though we were also affiliated to the CTC/BC.

    mikemorini
    Member

    Have a search over on “song of the paddle” forum.
    I know a few people on there are involved with clubs, CE etc and would give some good advice.
    It’s one of the most civilised forums on t’internet, no name calling or anything!

    antigee
    Member

    here’s a lengthy list of things to consider courtesy of the BMC (British Mountaineering Council)

    https://www.thebmc.co.uk/club-governance-guidance

    edit I know its not quite the same as canoeing but I held a few climbing club and other roles with BMC and they are OK at this sort of stuff

    Premier Icon mrhoppy
    Subscriber

    Having been in this situation recently with a canoeing fatality, the advice we received was yes you could potentially. Contact details if you want more info but it’s not one I’m overly keen to do over the forum.

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