The term ‘Event’ conjures different things for different people, from office Christmas party, to sports tournament to large scale concert! Each presenting varying degrees of risk and issues for consideration, it can be a minefield to even know where to start when organising events.
Whilst there is no ‘Event Law’ as such, in this article, we hope to provide some clear guidance on what we see as some of the key considerations that may have legal implications, when event planning.
Duties as an event organiser
Arguably, your main responsibility will be for ensuring that overall safety at the event is maintained, so that people attending are not exposed to health and safety risks. The HSE (Health and Safety Executive) have resources on event management with practical guidance for events producers. Alongside having your own internal health and safety processes, you will want to ensure that your event providers and suppliers adhere to their own health and safety procedures. Having robust supplier contracts in place can protect you if ever there was an issue in this regard.
You will most certainly want to ensure that you have adequate insurance in place, both to cover you from a public liability and a cancellation perspective. Events that take place outdoors could easily be affected by adverse weather conditions and may require postponement or even cancellation. As an event organiser, not only is it recommended that you have adequate insurance to cover these eventualities but you may also want to make it an obligation upon your suppliers, via your contracts with them. That way, if you need to recoup any money paid up front, you can be assured that they have insurance backing them up in order to reimburse you, where possible.
Risks (Waivers and disclaimers)
Each event may be different in terms of the level of risk it presents. For high risk events such as those involving stunts, animals, strenuous activity or equipment, event organisers might want to consider notices that limit their liability to event attendees. This can be done via terms and conditions that include disclaimers and/or waivers. Such attempts to restrict or limit liability in this way will only be effective if they are deemed to be ‘fair’, (as per the Consumer Rights Act 2015). Certainly, if an event could potentially place an attendee in danger, it is advisable to display a clear disclaimer notice prominently both at the time of booking and at the event venue itself. Such notices can serve to warn attendees of the risks and advising what they should do to minimise them!
All the above being said, any attempt to exclude or limit liability for personal injury or death caused by your own negligence will be ineffective.
Contracts (Consumer & Supplier)
Having Terms and Conditions in place with your customers (whether direct consumers or corporate clients) are going to be key in setting out the key terms of the contract between you. You can also obligate your customers via these terms and conditions to take their own insurance, especially where the events could pose as high risk. The document will serve as a good vehicle to not only set out standard provisions such as payment and cancellation terms but for you to set out what you expect of your customers in terms of behaviour. For large scale events, your venue providers may have strict policies in terms of behaviour, restrictions on alcohol consumption, for example and your own terms and conditions are the perfect means of transferring on these provisions to your customers.
On the supplier side, your event may consist of various providers from venue to entertainment, to catering! Having robust supplier agreements in place are essential to not only make clear what is being provided but to ensure that your suppliers are contractually bound to meet their obligations under that agreement. Health and safety provisions will form a large part of the supplier agreements and you will want these to be as specific as possible and tailored to the type of supplier as much as possible. Indemnity provisions are a must, so that, as an event organiser, you have avenue for recovery of loss if an element of that event doesn’t go to plan and your supplier is at fault for that. The impact of Covid brought greater scrutiny of the force majeure clause in such agreements and going forward, it is important that the contract clearly sets out what happens in these type of circumstances that are essentially outside everyone’s control.
Data Protection (Permissions)
Other Considerations – Risks of Package?
You might find that some events go hand in hand with other services, such as offering accommodation or transport. Whilst these types of services might seem ancillary to the main event itself, the combination of all these services together could create a ‘package’ and bring the booking within the scope of the Package Travel and Linked Travel Arrangements Regulations 2018 (“PTRs”). Packages are much more heavily regulated and so if, as an event organiser, your current or future plans involve ‘add-ons’ such as these, you may want to seek legal advice in the first instance, to ensure you’re not falling foul of the PTRs or any other regulation.
Future considerations – Martyn’s Law
Currently subject to legislative scrutiny ahead of formal introduction, Martyn’s Law is a draft bill, brought about in light of the Manchester bombings. The legislation will impose a duty upon those responsible for the safety of the public when in a publicly accessible location. A duty could be placed on operators of venues to consider terror threats and assess the impact that an attack could have on them. They would be required to put appropriate protection measures in place. Such obligations could have an impact upon supplier contracts, insurance requirements and changes to internal H&S procedures to ensure compliance.
We will have more on what the impact of Martyn’s Law may mean for the travel and leisure sector as more details are released.
For further information on any of the issues raised in this article please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
This article was originally published on: 30 May 2023