I have come to have strong views on what I call “Bush lawyers”. It seems that not a day goes by without someone being concerned and saying “Maybe we should get a legal opinion on that”. I understand that this is a general trend in our society but I am concerned that it is becoming too pervasive and it is stifling progress in gliding.
Glider pilots are not rotting in jail in large numbers for failing to spot a fault on a DI, or making an honest mistake. Nor have any been sued successfully for damages. GFA have put good policies in place to ensure that if members act in good faith to the best of their ability they will not be liable. So please try to exercise common sense and do the right thing and enjoy gliding without being afraid.
There are also laws to protect volunteers. The Civil Liability Act (NSW) provides:
61 Protection of volunteers
A volunteer does not incur any personal civil liability in respect of any act or omission done or made by the volunteer in good faith when doing community work:
(a) organised by a community organisation, or
(b) as an office holder of a community organisation.
"Community work" is defined in s 60 as meaning:
community work means work that is not for private financial gain and that is done for a charitable, benevolent, philanthropic, sporting, educational or cultural purpose, and includes work declared by the regulations to be community work but does not include work declared by the regulations not to be community work.
Further, a person cannot sue for damages in negligence in respect of harm suffered from an obvious risk of a dangerous recreational activity:
In 2013 the Supreme Court of NSW held that gliding is a “dangerous recreational activity” within the meaning of the statute, all other states have enacted parallel legislation.
5L No liability for harm suffered from obvious risks of dangerous recreational activities
(1) A person (the defendant) is not liable in negligence for harm suffered by another person (the plaintiff) as a result of the materialisation of an obvious risk of a dangerous recreational activity engaged in by the plaintiff.
(2) This section applies whether or not the plaintiff was aware of the risk.
"Dangerous recreational activity" is defined in s 5K as meaning a recreational activity that involves a significant risk of physical harm. "Recreational activity" is defined as including any sport or any pursuit or activity engaged in for enjoyment, relaxation or leisure.