Don't risk it! Risk management checklist for carnivals, festivals and sporting events

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Risk management is a critical part of any successful and smoothly run event.

Developed risk management policies and procedures minimise potential legal liability, lower operational costs and assist with budget certainty. They also enhance an event's reputation and image and lead to a safer environment for event participants, staff, officials, volunteers and spectators.

Below is a checklist, touching on four critical risk management areas:

1. Develop a Risk Management Matrix - Develop a risk management matrix to assist in the identification of all risks associated with the event. Once a risk has been identified and itemised, the risk's likelihood and consequences can be assessed. That process then facilitates development of a plan for risk mitigation and response. - For risks with catastrophic consequences (serious injury or death) consider retaining experts for specialist guidance on risk management strategies (for example crowd control experts for festivals).
2. Communication is critical! - Ensure your risk management policies and procedures have been communicated to all relevant event staff and subcontractors. - Consider appointing a dedicated risk officer. - Regularly monitor and review strategies and their implementation. Ensure all incidents and "near misses" are documented and actioned as appropriate.
3. Carefully draft participant contracts and waivers - Careful drafting of supplier contracts can assist in reducing and transferring risk. - In relation to participant contracts, and waiver of liability clauses, consider engaging a lawyer to assist in preparing these documents, as complexities arise from the operation of the *Australia Consumer Law* and the nuances of state and territory legislation.
4. Adequate insurance protection - Appoint a specialist broker to ensure appropriate insurance cover is obtained. - Legal liability insurance and workers compensation insurance is a must. Subject to the event in question, also consider obtaining Professional Indemnity cover, Directors' & Officers' liability cover and cancellation and abandonment insurance. - In relation to legal liability insurance, ensure it extends to any hold harmless agreements or indemnities which may have been required by relevant council or other approval bodies. - Require all subcontractors to procure their own insurance and, if possible, require them to extend their cover to include you as principal.

Despite careful preparation and planning accidents happen. In the event of an accident:

  • Document what has occurred. Contemporaneous photographs and incident reports can be critical in defending a subsequent claim.
  • If litigation appears likely, consider the early involvement of legal representation to assist in both mitigating the damage, but also protecting communications which are more likely to be subject to legal professional privilege.
  • Refrain from making admissions.
  • Notify your insurer as soon as possible.

To discuss how to manage the risk of your sporting event, festival or carnivals in more detail, please contact our Sport, Leisure and Tourism Sector team.

All information on this site is of a general nature only and is not intended to be relied upon as, nor to be a substitute for, specific legal professional advice. No responsibility for the loss occasioned to any person acting on or refraining from action as a result of any material published can be accepted.