Sports organisation could be vicariously liable for injury to players due to the poor conditions of pitches

Published 30 January 2014 By: Adam Lovatt

Groundsmen clearing Snow

In this blog, Adam Lovatt reflects upon a decision of the Court of Session in Edinburgh, which saw Dundee City Council found vicariously liable for the one of their employees allowing rugby training to take place on a frozen pitch with injury resulting to one of the players.

The case of Drummond Cox v Dundee City Council may not immediately mean much to many people; however in years to come it may be a landmark decision and set a precedent as to the responsibility that referees and coaches have when allowing sporting events to take place in inclement weather.

In this case, Drummond Cox, raised an action against Dundee City Council after he sustained a fracture to the fifth metatarsal of his left foot, which required surgery and the insertion of a screw, following an injury suffered at rugby training. The key dispute in the case was the state of the underfoot conditions and whether the pitch where the training took place was suitable for the training.

The key test in the case, as discussed in the decision of Lady Scott, was whether the pitch could 'take a stud'. Many of us have played sport on a pitch that may be hard, or indeed frozen, but have been fortunate enough not to suffer any form of injury despite the state of the pitch. Mr Cox, in making a side-step in training to avoid contact from other players, heard a crack when planting his foot on the ground to avoid such contact.


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Adam Lovatt

Adam Lovatt

Adam is a lawyer specialising in sports law with IMG. Adam has a wide range of commercial and litigation experience from his four years as a qualified solicitor. Adam has a passion for sports law and is currently undertaking a IP Law Masters programme with the University of London. He is passionate about most sports particularly football, golf and tennis.

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