Legal aspects of outdoor leadership

  • Negligence
  • Contract
  • Legislative liability
  • Claims and liability
  • Insurance
  • Disclaimers, waivers, consents and warnings
  • Incorporation
  • Legal action

Increased civil litigation in recent years combined with wider media coverage has highlighted the responsibilities of leaders involved in outdoor activities. A leader who assumes responsibility for others, whether children (school groups, youth groups, church groups, scouts, guides, etc.) or adults (walking clubs, friends, community groups, etc.), is subject to certain legal responsibilities. The responsibilities of leaders arise in a number of ways, and are defined formally through legislation, regulations and legal precedent.

This chapter contains a summary of legal advice available on this subject at the time of publishing. It contains discussion of legal issues which leaders should take into account before leading groups. If necessary, leaders should seek professional advice on any matter they are concerned about, before leading groups. Most bushwalking clubs have honorary legal advisers, and many have solicitors or barristers among their members, who may be good starting points for more specific or detailed advice.