Confidential data leaks – what are the vicarious liability risks for sports organisations?

Published 20 September 2017 | Authored by: Tim Meakin , Tim Walker, Richard Davies

Vicarious liability is a legal principle that renders a person, company (or certain organisations) liable for the “tortious” (wrongful) acts of another. The principle is well established in the sports law arena. For example, the tortious “on-field” act of a professional sports person (typically a reckless tackle causing career-ending injuries to another participant) has been deemed as impliedly authorised by the employer (or as an unauthorised way of undertaking the professional employment duties) and thus constitutes acting in the course of employment1

The principle can also extend beyond the employer/employee relationship (as we explore below). For example, an amateur sports club that places its junior players under the supervision of volunteer coaches may find itself vicariously liable for the negligence or deliberate torts of those coaches.

This article addresses a particular area of potential liability of sports organisations, namely the risks associated with unauthorised disclosure of confidential information held by such organisations (which ranges from commercial information regarding sponsors to personal and medical information relating to sports people). Specifically, it looks at:

  1. Part 1 - outlines the legal principles of vicarious liability and recent decisions which have expanded the scope of the doctrine;
  1. Part 2 - sets out a number of scenarios applicable to sports organisations demonstrating the potential reach of vicarious liability claims in the event of unauthorised disclosure of confidential information; and
  1. Part 3 - discusses practical steps that organisations may take in order to mitigate such risks. continue reading register here for free


LawInSport is an independent publisher used by sports lawyers, sports business executives and administrators, athletes and support personnel, academics and students to stay informed of the latest legal issues and developments from the world of sport. It is our mission to improve the accountability, transparency and standard of the administration and governance of sport and the understanding of the law.

Thank you for considering becoming a member of LawInSport, supporting independent media and the promotion well researched, reference and accessible legal information that contributes to greater transparency and accountability in the sport and legal sectors.



Related Articles

About the Author

Tim Meakin

Tim Meakin

Tim Meakin is a barrister at Seven Bedford Row. His practice covers a wide range of sports, including doping cases, and other sports disciplinary cases, child safe-guarding, in addition to specialist personal injury and professional negligence claims (including claims relating to doctors, physiotherapists and coaches). He has been instructed on a wide range of issues from individual sports personnel to major sporting bodies, (including the Rugby Football League, UK Athletics and British Cycling Federation). Tim provides both advice and representation in courts and tribunals and has undertaken a wide range of civil litigation and disciplinary cases before sports governing bodies as diverse as the Football Association, British Gymnastics and the British Canoe Union. Tim also writes on issues relating to Sports Law and he is a member of the British Association for Sport and Law (BASL).

Tim Walker profile photo

Tim Walker

Tim's practice focuses on the problems faced by small and medium sized enterprises in the commercial and employment fields. As a former international hockey player and qualified coach, distinctly average golfer, road cyclist and long term Liverpool fan, Tim also has a keen interest in sport and legal matters relating to sport.

  • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Richard Davies

Richard Davies


Richard specialises in commercial contracts, with a particular focus on the technology, media, sport and retail sectors. He has experience advising on a wide range of commercial contracts, IP, consumer and data protection matters. Richard has particular expertise in e-commerce and the use and monetisation of digital content. He has experience advising and drafting and negotiating agreements for a range of businesses from start-ups to major UK PLCs.

Richard is admitted to practise in England and Wales.


Leave a comment

Please login to leave a comment.

Official partners 

Soccerex Core Logo
YRDA Logo2
SAC logo LawAccord

Copyright © LawInSport Limited 2010 - 2018. These pages contain general information only. Nothing in these pages constitutes legal advice. You should consult a suitably qualified lawyer on any specific legal problem or matter. The information provided here was accurate as of the day it was posted; however, the law may have changed since that date. This information is not intended to be, and should not be used as, a substitute for taking legal advice in any specific situation. LawInSport is not responsible for any actions taken or not taken on the basis of this information. Please refer to the full terms and conditions on our website.