Reconceptualising the Standard of Care in Sport: The Case of Youth Rugby in England and South Africa

35 Pages Posted: 28 Feb 2016

See all articles by Steve Greenfield

Steve Greenfield

University of Westminster - School of Law

AJ Karstens

North-West University

Guy Osborn

University of Westminster - School of Law

J. P. Rossouw

North-West University

Date Written: December 21, 2015

Abstract

Sport is an important area of civil society in both South Africa and England, and this article is broadly concerned with the relationship between sport and personal injury. More specifically, the article compares how rugby is regulated by the tort of negligence in England and delict in South Africa respectively. Regarding liability, for sport there are very specific factors that need to be taken into account. The article is concerned with, firstly, the broader context of sport as an important social and cultural activity, and secondly the specific sporting context that includes the rules of the game as well as the playing culture, with a focus on rugby at junior level. Through a critical and comparative analysis of how the standards of care in sport have been developed in both jurisdictions, the aim of this article is to consider how sport specific elements can be incorporated into the traditional legal principles. This comparative analysis contextualises the various discussions in the light of the differences between the English tort of negligence and the South African law of delict. Our argument is that the context and specificity of rugby should be more explicitly taken into account when evaluating potential liability. To establish a standard of care for sport is complex, with many factors to be taken into account and balanced against one another. The law of negligence/delict therefore needs to be adaptable and flexible to resolve new situations where injuries have occurred. Even in established situations where liability has been previously determined, novel events do occur and knowledge develops that requires a reconsideration of the principles that govern liability. In junior rugby, the risk of very serious injuries is relatively small and the law needs to tread a cautious path through liability, ensuring it is a vehicle that promotes sport rather than creating barriers to its enjoyment and practice. A greater understanding of sport, informed by detailed research, can unearth new areas of potential liability that will need to be considered in the future.

Keywords: Negligence, Delict, Standards of care, Sport, South Africa, England, Public Policy, Litigation, Youth Rugby

Suggested Citation

Greenfield, Steve and Karstens, AJ and Osborn, Guy and Rossouw, J. P., Reconceptualising the Standard of Care in Sport: The Case of Youth Rugby in England and South Africa (December 21, 2015). Potchefstroom Electronic Law Journal, Vol. 18, No. 6, 2015, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2739054

Steve Greenfield (Contact Author)

University of Westminster - School of Law ( email )

309 Regent Street
London, W1R 8AL
United Kingdom

AJ Karstens

North-West University ( email )

Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences

Guy Osborn

University of Westminster - School of Law ( email )

4 Little Titchfield Street
London, England W1W 7UW
United Kingdom

J. P. Rossouw

North-West University ( email )

Private Bag X6001
Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences
Potchefstroom, Northwest 2520
South Africa

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