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7940AFE Business Law

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7940AFE Business Law

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Course Code: 7940AFE
University: Griffith University

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Country: Australia

Question
Research on an Australian case

Select the party you wish to represent ie. Plaintiff or Defendant; You don’t have to choose both!
Research your selected case.
Read and understand your selected case.
Prepare and present a summary of the case and your selected party’s arguments.

Peter Joseph Haylen v NSW Rugby Union Ltd (2002)  
Using IRAC rule
Answer

Issue 
Whether the New South Wales Rugby Union (NSWRU) owed a duty of care to ensure that, the players are not exposed to unnecessary risk of injury
Whether the NSWRU regulated and controlled the game of rugby in the State of New South Wales
Rule
In Australia, the sports organization owed a duty of care that is usually implied and if the sporting body is the rule-maker in a kind of sport where safety is important or the intensity of risk is high, such organization owes a risk of duty to every participant in the sport. The duty is greater when the administration of the sports organization has far-reaching resources such as full-time administrators and employees, sponsorship and insurance designed to draw the attention of the viewers and the extent of liability is relatively very high (Zipursky 2015). Whereas, the administrators of an organization who is responsible to make the sport enjoyable, are part-time amateurs, and they usually owe less duty of care to the participants.
A person is said to owe a duty of care to his neighbor and must ensure that the action of the person does not cause any damage to the neighbor. The person who owes a duty of care must avert any such conduct, which is reasonably foreseeable, and that such conduct is likely to cause peril to the neighbor (Abraham 2017). Any person who fails to exercise reasonable standard of care towards the person he owes a duty of care, shall be said to have committed a breach of his duty of care. The damage suffered or injuries sustained by the aggrieved person shall be compensated by the infringing party and shall be entitled to civil and criminal penalties. However, such damage must not be remote and directly related to the action of the infringing party.
The sports organization that is responsible for organizing, controlling and organizing the game of rugby union owes a duty of care towards the players participating in the game. In case there is, a probability of any risk of injury in the game that is in the knowledge of the sports organization the same shall be informed to the players participating in such game. Further, the defendant owed a duty to the plaintiff to make changes in the rule in order to eliminate or reduce the risk of disastrous injury involved in the game of rugby (Fulbrook 2017). Furthermore, if the defendant is is aware of the risk of disastrous injuries involved in the game, he must advise the plaintiff or the players participating in the game how to avert such injuries.
In Worsely v Australian Rugby Football Union Ltd [1998] 45 NSWLR 45 NSWLR 487 and Hyde v Agar, the Chief justice held that in order to determine whether the defendant owed duty of care to the plaintiff, the test of reasonability must be applied. However, he further held that reasonability could only be applied in a particular context. The curt must determine whether the rules of the game exposed the players to unnecessary risk of injuries of serious nature. The game of rugby involves activities such as mauling, tackling, which are considered as dangerous activities even by people who are not footballers (Rhee 2013). However, if a game involves various forms of risk activities, and the adult players participate in such game voluntarily, for pleasure, it is difficult for the court to determine whether a certain degree of risk is unnecessary in the game. There is no objective standard in accordance to which it is possible to determine that a certain level of risk involved in the game of rugby is acceptable, but beyond such level, such risks shall be considered as ‘unnecessary’.
Application
In this case, a rugby player Peter Joseph Haylen, the plaintiff, was rendered quadriplegic and he brought a legal action against the NSWRU. He argued that NSWRU controlled and regulated the game of rugby in the state of New South Wales therefore; it owed a duty of care to ensure that the players of the game were not exposed to unnecessary risk of injury. The defendant, NSWRU, contended that in 1982 season, the Sydney University Football Club matches, the matches were played in the Sydney Metropolitan Rugby First Division Competition. The defendant was merely a voluntary organization that was involved in the general promotion and encouragement of rugby football (Goldberg, Sebok and Zipursky 2016). 
Further, the Sydney University Sports Union through its club, Sydney University Football Club, controlled the team on whose behalf the plaintiff participated. The plaintiff voluntarily participated as a member of his team in the subject match. The Sydney University Football Club also coached the plaintiff. Furthermore, the Sydney University Football Club fielded the team and was also responsible to organize, fund, promote and control the Sydney Metropolitan Rugby Competition. Neither the Sydney Football Club nor the players of the club like the Plaintiff were directly affiliated with or members of the NSWRU (defendant). The defendant was only responsible for the management of the NSW state representative team, development and coaching of the NSW State Team. The defendant neither coached the players of the Sydney Metropolitan Club teams nor organized or selected the players of that team. The NSWRU team did not control the team either.
Further in this case, the Court of Appeal held that reliance an control are the key elements that should be applied in order to determine whether there was any potential duty of care on part of the defendant towards the plaintiff. The foundation of the existence of any duty of care is the combination of reliance and control. In this context, the control that was conferred upon the members of eth Board was remote from the respondents and the control only extended to participating or the capacity to take part in a sporting contest where conditions are laid down regarding the risk of injuries which the people might voluntarily engage to by such participation. In regard to the essential factor reliance, the game of rugby engross an apparent risks of injury that may arise from various factors such as the attitude of the players, tendency and capacities of individual players, that are apparently beyond the influence of the appellants (Levy, Golden and Sacks 2016).
Moreover, the plaintiff contended that the defendant did not amend the rules or laws of the game in which the plaintiff was playing and sustained injuries. As per the judgment, no individual member of the International Rugby Football Board (IRFB) was empowered to amend the rules of the game. The Board of the IRFB or the members who attended the meetings as delegate was not empowered to exercise control over the incident that occurred in the match in which the plaintiff participated. Further, the IRFB did not organize the match neither decided the laws of the rugby game, which was to be adopted. Therefore, even if IRFB had influenced the way in which rugby should be played in Australia, such ‘influence’ shall not amount to control over the sport (Abraham 2017). The Board or the delegates cannot be said to have any legal control over the match, as there were too many intervening levels of decision-making between the dissemination of laws of the game by the IRFB and the conduct of the separate matches in which the plaintiff sustained injuries. Furthermore, neither the board nor the delegates invited, required, or directed the plaintiff to participate in the match in which plaintiff was injured (Robinson 2014). 
Under such circumstances, to hold that the defendant owed a duty of care to amend the rules of the game and owed a duty of care to prevent the players from any risk of injury during the match, it would extend the concept of duty of care way too far. This would imply that a person must be imposed with a positive duty to exercise control over the involuntary conduct of other individuals that is, the players, which was the immediate cause of the injuries sustained by the plaintiff. If it is held that, the defendant owed a duty of care towards the players and that the defendant must compensate to the plaintiff for the injuries sustained, it would simply imply that the defendant have to pay compensation for the injuries sustained by the players for the wrongful act of the other players (Dickson 2015). 
If such duty is imposed on the defendant, it would mean that the defendant would be  conferred a duty to exercise control over over the conduct of the players which the defendant did not possess and it would result in diversion of the concept of individual responsibility, which forms the foundation of the law of negligence.
Conclusion 
The court determined that NSWRU did not possess any legal obligation to ensure the safety of the players (plaintiff) as the plaintiff participated in the game voluntarily and on his free will. This implies that the player was aware of the risk of injuries that was involved in the game of injury and therefore, the NSWRU did not owe an individual duty of care to all the rugby players in NSW. This case has enhanced the level of responsibility that s placed upon the sporting authorities to ensure that the risk of foreseeable injuries is reduced and take appropriate measures to avert the risk of unnecessary harm to the sports players.  
Reference list
Abraham, K., 2017. The forms and functions of tort law. West Academic.
Abraham, K., 2017. The forms and functions of tort law. West Academic.
Dickson, C.J., 2015. Complex Rules & Inconsistent Interpretation: Duty of Care and Causation in Collision Sports.
Fulbrook, J., 2017. Outdoor activities, negligence and the law. Routledge.
Goldberg, J.C., Sebok, A.J. and Zipursky, B.C., 2016. Tort Law: Responsibilities and Redress. Wolters Kluwer law & business. Hyde v Agar [2000] HCA 41
Levy, N.M., Golden, M.M. and Sacks, L., 2016. Comparative Negligence, Assumption of the Risk, and Related Defenses (Vol. 1). California Torts. Peter Joseph Haylen v NSW Rugby Union Ltd [2002]
Rhee, R.J., 2013. The Tort Foundation of Duty of Care and Business Judgment. Robinson, P.E., 2014. Foundations of sports coaching. Routledge.
Worsely v Australian Rugby Football Union Ltd [1998] 45 NSWLR 45 NSWLR 487 Zipursky, B.C., 2015. Reasonableness in and out of Negligence Law

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