EXPERTS: Are you liable?


While the liability of private skippers and owners may not be so obvious, it is potentially an everyday problem for yacht charter companies
 

While the liability of private skippers and owners may not be so obvious, it is potentially an everyday problem for yacht charter companies

Stephanie Pritchett looks at the potential liability of skippers and owners
As a skipper of a yacht are you going to be held legally liable if one of your crew members has an accident on board? Is the position different if you are a paid skipper on someone else's yacht? What steps do the competition authorities take to limit your liability? Do liability waivers really work? This article looks at some of the key issues involved in skippers' liability and should be read by all those (paid or unpaid) skippers setting sail to take part in a race or even just to take a few friends out for a casual Sunday sail. Can the Skipper be legally liable if sued by a crew member? Liability under the law of negligence It is a well established principle of marine law that a skipper's primary responsibility is the safety of the crew and the vessel. In the event of an accident on board resulting in personal injury to a crew member, that crew member could bring an action under the law of negligence against a number of different people including the yacht skipper, the yacht owner, or the skipper of another boat involved (let's call these people the 'defendant'). To establish a negligence action the injured party would have to prove: - that they were owed a duty of care by the defendant and; - that the defendant was in breach of that duty of care and; - that a particular injury in question arose as a result of that breach. As it is the skipper's responsibility to ensure the safety of the crew, any negligent action on their behalf may give rise to a potential action against them if the defendant can argue the points above. Liability under the Occupiers Liability Act 1954 Under the Occupiers Liability Act

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