The recent case of Maylin v Dacorum Sports Trust  EWHC 378 (QB) is the latest example of a claim being made for damages suffered whilst participating in bouldering, a form of low-level climbing. Whilst interesting in its own right in terms of how the courts apply legal principles to the area, it also sheds light on approaches to lifestyle sports more generally and the place of risk within play. This Intervention is essentially a case note of Maylin, but viewed, in part, through the lens of recent interdisciplinary work the authors have undertaken into parkour.
Risk and Lifestyle Sport
Activities such as bouldering are, of course, not without their dangers (Josephsen et al, 2007; Woolings et al, 2015). From a legal perspective, the courts have previously considered whether those who put themselves deliberately at risk should be able to seek compensation. Generally this has been answered in the negative – see for example the case of Poppleton v Trustees of the Portsmouth Youth Activities Committee  All ER (D) 150, similarly a case that involved bouldering, where it was noted that:Adults who choose to engage in physical activities which obviously give rise to a degree of unavoidable risk may find that they have no means of recompense if the risk materialises so they are injured.
There are however some significant examples that appear to show a more claimant friendly approach, where some form of ‘assumed duty’ can be established, essentially where some form of instruction has been provided (Wilson v Haden (T/A Clyne Farm Centre EWHC 229)) and more broadly there have been strong arguments that the social utility of the activity in question needs to be factored into any evaluation of liability – something that has taken statutory form via the Compensation Act 2006 (s1). This provision, and also the Social Action, Responsibility and Heroism Act 2015 (s2), have attempted, and arguably not very successfully, to encourage the courts to consider the public benefit or social utility of allegedly negligent acts when assessing liability. Recent work into lifestyle sports has considered whether the social value or benefit of sport should accord some extra protection for people engaging in such activities.