The Court of Appeal has rejected a claim for damages by a woman climber who was injured when a stunt being filmed for a television production went wrong.
The woman was on a climbing expedition in Ecuador during which she volunteered to pretend to fall down a crevasse for the benefit of the film. She was left with long-term headaches and soft tissue injuries to her neck after hitting her head during the ‘stunt’.
She brought a claim for compensation against the travel company that had provided guides for the expedition. The County Court found the company liable and awarded her compensation. However, that ruling has now been overturned by the Court of Appeal.
Although the woman had not instigated the staged fall – which was suggested as an exciting piece of footage for the camera – Lord Justice Pitchford said that she had volunteered freely and without compulsion to carry it out and the travel company could not be held responsible.
The Court concluded that the travel company’s guides were experienced, conscientious and diligent and the County Court judge had made an error of law in finding that the company’s duty of care extended to preventing the staged fall from taking place. The stunt was not part of the expedition’s itinerary and the travel company was under no contractual duty to prevent the claimant from performing such unauthorised activity.