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Craven v John Riches

5 March 2001
The issues

Responsibility Of Organisers Of Sporting Events For Injuries

The facts

The Claimant had an accident in August 1993 when he attended a motorcycling weekend organised by the Defendants at Knock Hill. He took part in an event which was not a race but an opportunity to have “a blast around a race track”. He rode his own machine which he had not ridden for a year. Those attending were divided into three groups – fast, medium and slow or “cruising”. The Claimant entered into the fast group and completed a number of laps of the track increasing his speed as he gained confidence.

On his final lap he was approaching 125 mph. He came over the brow of a hill and saw other riders to his left travelling slowly on a corner. He braked, lost control of the bike and suffered serious injuries. He sued on the basis that the respondents were negligent in allowing riders of motorcycles classed in the slow group as being allowed to be on the track at the same as riders in the fast group. At first instance the claim was dismissed. The Judge found no breach of duty and moreover that the congestion of the slow riders was not a feature of the accident which was caused by the Claimant’s response to the situation.

The decision

1. The Respondent’s duty of care included the prevention of obstruction to faster riders by slower riders.

2. The Claimant’s approach at speed for foreseeable and the presence of slow riders at speed created the risk of an accident.

3. The risk could have been avoided easily by preventing slow riders from being on the track at the same time as fast riders.

The Claimant was however contributorily negligent. He was inexperienced with the machine he was riding particularly at high speed. That negligence was assessed at 66%.

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The content on this page is provided for the purposes of general interest and information. It contains only brief summaries of aspects of the subject matter and does not provide comprehensive statements of the law. It does not constitute legal advice and does not provide a substitute for it.

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