NSW Public Liability Insurance - Legal Responsibility of Trip Leaders?

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14 April 2015
Good Evening.
I belong to a 4wd Club and i have been asked to run a trip. So I will be a trip Leader. My question is am I responsible for the participants on that trip and what are my liabilities and when does my Duty of Care start and finish?

Our Club has Public liability Insurance. Does this cover me in all aspects of the trip, e.g. Personal injury and damage they do to their 4wd?

By being a Trip Leader am i representing myself as an expert in the field.

This is done on both crown and state land is there a difference in laws?

Thank you.


Hi Lynda,

Firstly I would be looking at your club's policy and determining whether it will cover you as a principal or employee of the club as well as the club itself for any liability. You also have to read your policy to determine whether it covers personal injury as well as property damage. As a trip leader you would likely owe a duty of care to the participants in the trip, however the precise nature of this duty cannot be spelled out as it will often depend on the specific circumstances of the case and unless a similar case has been decided it is impossible to know precisely what a court would hold that your duty involved. Generally speaking the nature of the duty you would owe would be to avoid exposing participants to foreseeable risks of harm, which is quite broad.

However, when a claim involves "dangerous recreational activities", the NSW Civil Liability Act provides that you do not owe a duty to another person who engages in a dangerous recreational activity to take care in respect of that risk if the risk is the subject of a warning to the plaintiff. The risk warning must be given in such a way that the person is warned of the risk before engaging in the activity.

I would definitely be having all participants sign an acknowledgement of risk and disclaimer of liability, stating that they understand the risks involved (list some of those risks on the document) and they accept them and you won't be liable for any injury, property damage or any loss, claim or damage howsoever arising....etc

But check out your policy or speak with your insurer about who and what is covered as well. Your insurer may even be able to help you out with a suitable disclaimer document as its in their interests to limit your liability.