Wooldridge v Sumner (1963): The defence of consent

Main arguments in this case: Volenti non fit injuriaOne who accepts harm voluntarily cannot have a duty of care owed to.

Areas of applicable law: Tort law – Duty of care – Defence of consent.

The fact of the case: The claimant was a photographer and was standing too close to the racecourse when the horse rider lost control and veered into the space where the photographer was standing and got him seriously injured. The claimant brought an action against the defendant on the basis of duty of care.

The Court of Appeal found that there was no duty of care owed by the defendant. The claimant was a spectator and where he positioned himself for the vantage or spectacle was claimant’s own choice. The horse race is a fast moving sport and the rider is to concentrate on the horse rather than the spectators. The rider’s failure to control the house was a judgemental error and the injury did not occur because of reckless riding.

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