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I’m a keen runner and often enter various length races from 5k to half marathons. I am frequently surprised by the disclaimers.
I’m sure that you all remember the basic rules under the Unfair Contract Terms Act 1977 (UCTA) which aims to reduce unfair terms in contracts. Section 2 states that you can’t limit or exclude liability for death or personal injury caused by your negligence. Hence why you often see contract terms along the lines of 'nothing in these terms excludes any liability that cannot be excluded by law' (etc).
It is also unlawful to mislead consumers about their legal rights under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008, which repealed the earlier the Consumer Transactions (Restrictions on Statements) Order 1976. This statutory instrument made it an offence to use certain kinds of unfair contract term or notice.
In addition, contracts with consumers are governed by the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999 (UTCCR). Schedule 2 to the UTCCR states that the following would be unfair:
excluding or limiting the legal liability of a seller or supplier in the event of the death of a consumer or personal injury to the latter resulting from an act or omission of that seller or supplier
Is there an exemption for sports events? I didn’t think so.
Assuming the organiser is considered to be a trader, UCTA and the UTCCR will apply. Many races are organised by commercial entities, others by not-for-profit clubs, but they may still be considered to be a trader under the legislation.
I’ll give you a flavour of the sorts of disclaimers that I have come across when entering races:
I accept the organisers will not be liable for any loss or damage, action, claim, cost or expenses, which may arise as a consequence of my participation in this event. I declare that I will not compete in this race unless I am in good health on the day of the race and that, in any event, I will only compete at my own
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