Standing in the Line of Fire: Cricket Umpires, Injuries and Liability

Greenfield, S. 2018. Standing in the Line of Fire: Cricket Umpires, Injuries and Liability. National University of Juridical Sciences Law Review.

TitleStanding in the Line of Fire: Cricket Umpires, Injuries and Liability
AuthorsGreenfield, S.
Abstract

Abstract
This article is concerned with the incidence and risk of injuries to umpires in modern cricket and the potential liability in negligence of the governing bodies and competition organisers. The development of Twenty20 cricket has revolutionised cricket both nationally and internationally providing an exciting, glamorous and financially lucrative new format. The requirement for fast scoring has led to innovative shot making and hard hitting promoted by changes to bat design. This increasingly places umpires in a vulnerable position at risk of injury from a fiercely struck straight shot and there have been examples of umpires suffering head injuries. County batsmen are required to wear designated protective helmets and the policy was reviewed after the tragic death of Australian test batsman Phil Hughes in 2014. Some umpires have personally trialed both helmets and armguards and head guards were made available by the organisers to umpires at the ICC international Twenty20 tournament but were optional.

The legal framework is the negligence liability of Sports Governing Bodies and the duty of care, through the tort of negligence, owed to officials within the context of increasing awareness of the dangers of head injury within sport. The relevant jurisprudence of cases in tort demonstrates imposition of liability for sports related injuries across a range of novel situations. There has been a judicial reluctance to develop a general principle that could impact upon the operation of sport so liability has proceeded on a case by case basis. As Lord McMillan noted in Donogue v Stevenson:

‘The grounds of action may be as various and manifold as human errancy; and the conception of legal responsibility may develop in adaptation to altering social conditions and standards. The criterion of judgment must adjust and adapt itself to the changing circumstances of life. The categories of negligence are never closed.’

There is no general immunity for sport and knowledge of the risk of harm coupled with an increased medical understanding of the serious consequences of concussive injury could lead to liability. It is argued that developments within the game are creating new hazards and the relevant Governing Bodies need to carefully monitor the situation and carry out relevant risk assessments and consider the need for mandatory protective equipment.

Keywordssport,
cricket
umpires
injury
negligence
Twenty20
protective equipment
Governing Bodies
JournalNational University of Juridical Sciences Law Review
ISSN0975-0029
Year2018
PublisherWest Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences

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