A civil damages claim brought against a charity by an injured climber has been thrown out

A civil damages claim against a charity by a climber injured at an activity centre has been decided in favour of the charity.

The novice climber suffered serious leg injuries whilst taking part in the activity, which he knew to be risky. In Trustees of the Portsmouth Youth Activities v Poppleton the climber was found to be the author of his own misfortune.

Allegations that the protective matting that was provided was ineffective were dismissed on the basis that no matting could be guaranteed to safeguard against the effects of an awkward fall.

The climber suffered an injury because ‘he chose to indulge in activity which had inherent dangers, not because the premises were in a dangerous state,’ observed Lord Justice May in the Court of Appeal.

Lindsay Gray, senior liability underwriter at Ecclesiastical Insurance, said: ‘There is a perception that if an accident occurs, there is always someone to blame and the individual who is injured is never personally responsible.’

‘Provided that charities adopt a proportionate and sensible approach to risk they can be content that the law is now taking a more reasonable and sensible approach to accidents like this – an accident does not of itself demonstrate that negligence has occurred.’

‘If charities take steps to assess the risks of their activities, and make reasonable efforts to keep individuals safe, they have no reason to fear costly and damaging compensation claims.’