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Golfer Not Negligent When Unaware of Potential Danger

PLEASE NOTE: Information in this article is correct at the time of publication, please contact DFA Law for current advice on older articles.

Golfers will be pleased to note a recent decision of the Outer House of the Scottish Court of Session in a case in which a 70-year-old ball spotter at a golf club tournament sued a golfer whose ball hit him in the face.

The player was playing the sixth hole, but had hit his tee shot onto the fairway of the 12th hole and wished to play off that fairway back to the sixth. When the ball spotter went to warn spectators that they should move out of the way of the line of flight of the golfer, the player’s ball hit him in the right eye and he lost the sight in that eye as a result.

The man claimed that the player did not wait for him to move out of the way of the expected line of flight, did not shout ‘fore’ before playing the ball and did not exercise reasonable care to avoid causing injury.

The golfer claimed that he was unable to see the ball spotter or the spectators and that the ball spotter must have been aware of the danger in any event. His failure to shout ‘fore’ was because he was unaware of any risk to anyone when he made his shot.

In a long judgment (233 paragraphs), the Court found that the golfer did not breach any duty of care to the man who was injured and dismissed the claim.

Although this case was decided on the specific facts, it does support the view that whilst reasonable care must be taken to ensure that one’s actions do not result in injury to others, there is a limit to the amount of care that is required to be exercised.

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