Why rock climbers aren’t a liability

Posted by Catherine Flitcroft on 16/04/2014
No worries: landowners need not fear litigation

The BMC guide to occupiers' liability has been updated and refreshed, making it easier for landowners, managers and users to understand the legislation governing liability, and answers the concerns of landowners about the perceived liability risks associated with rock climbing on their land.

The BMC remains confident that landowners or occupiers will not be exposed to any potential liabilities in the event that a recreational rock climber has an accident on their land.  Climbing is an adventurous sports and the courts generally apply the principle that voluntary acceptance of risks by participants prevents a successful claim against others who have not committed any culpable act. 

Called Climbing & Occupiers’ Liability, the booklet provides landowners, managers and visitors to the countryside and crags of England and Wales with a summary of the legislation which affects the obligation of those who own and manage land.

Dave Turnbull, BMC CEO, said: “The BMC believes that owners and occupiers of land should not fear they will be the subject of litigation by climbers who have accidents on their land. The fact that climbers voluntarily accept the risks of their activity will protect owners and occupiers. We hope this guide helps landowners as well as climbers to understand the legislation and dispels any unwarranted fears.”

The BMC finds that while some owners and occupiers have traditionally been happy to give access for rock climbing, others are reluctant because of perceived concerns over possible legal liabilities.

The BMC is not aware of any successful claims by rock climbers in England and Wales.

The booklet covers the key legislation affecting this issue, including the occupiers’ duty of care to visitors on private land, open access land and along the coastal margin, and puts perceived risks of litigation into perspective. It offers the assurance that owners and occupiers of land should not fear being the subject of litigation by those whom they allow on their land to rock climb.

As a landowner itself, the BMC has voluntarily dedicated the majority of its landholdings under section 16 of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act as open access land. The BMC encourages other landowners to do the same, not only to allow the public to access and enjoy more areas in perpetuity, but for the lower duty of care it provides under the Occupiers’ Liability Act.

Download Climbing & Occupiers' Liability


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9
03/06/2012
Maybe the BMC should offer all landowners (a limited number of) the BMC 'if you die climbing it's your own fault signs' for free, with the option of them buying more (at a small profit to the BMC) if they so require.
2) Anonymous User
15/06/2012
This won’t make the slightest difference to the majority of landowners who use the insurance liability factor as a ruse. Let’s face it they either want money or they just don’t want others to share what they own. They will never climb themselves but like spoilt kids who won’t share their toys they probably get some perverse enjoyment and satisfaction in preventing others.
3) Anonymous User
16/06/2012
The BMC's own article could explain why landowners may be reluctant ?
Owned and managed by the BMC on behalf of all climbers, Craig Bwlch y Moch at Tremadog is an iconic traditional climbing venue. But poor behaviour and wild camping by a minority of climbers is threatening relations with neighbouring landowners at this popular site
4) Anonymous User
16/06/2012
However -as landowner with public access my insurance company charge me £150 extra for public liability insurance......whatever the "percieved" danger of litigation.
5) Anonymous User
16/06/2012
I have been a land manager for six years and there is no such thing as land without public access unless it is an industrial unit, someone's garden or a military base. Clearly landowners use the litigation factor as an excuse because they don't want to share - see comment 2 above although I think it is more for privacy than perverse enjoyment...just look at the Vixen Tor case.

Keep climbing where you want!
6) Anonymous User
17/06/2012
This argument,with others, about liability was used by the landowner to prevent climbers using Vixen Tor on Dartmoor.Nobody seemed to challenge it.
7) Anonymous User
20/06/2012
I commented and obviously no-one is hearing me -as a landowner my insurance company requires me to pay more if I have "Open Access". I have to pay to have the honour of people doing activities on my land - they get the access free.
8) Anonymous User
21/06/2012
I am a farmer, and a land owner - not a manager. I have to pay public liability insurance particularly due footpaths that run through my property. If climbers come onto my land and say knock a fence down and my cows escape then if I have not paid for my public liability insurance (and a premium on top of the standard amount because I welcome climbers) then my insurance will be void. It would cost me to have climbers on my land.

And a point to the "landmanager" below. learn your CROW (Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000)

Trespass is normally a civil wrong against the landowner. Examples include:

Riding a horse or cycle along a public footpath
Walking in a field over which there is no public right of access


9) Anonymous User
17/11/2012
This may well be the case for climbing or other activities on 'as is' rocks and crags. What is the situation if the landowner or a private individual constructs, say, a free standing climbing wall or a mountain bike jump - who then is responsible if someone has an accident? I guess the person would go after both the landowner and the person who was allowed to build the structure.

There are many variations in the scenario and you will be sure that the legal brains will find someone to sue

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