Legal position on leading walks - are you liable for everyone's actions and safety?


Active Member
Staff member
If you lead a walk, not like on a paid or professional level as a business or anything, just meeting with a group of other people and taking the lead on what direction you go in and where you walk, pointing out hazards, etc. - do you have to get insurance and are you liable if anything goes wrong or happens to any of the other walkers, or is everyone responsible for themselves and their own safety?

I imagine it's a big enough responsibility taking the lead anyway, without any added pressure of being liable for the actions and safety of everyone on the walk.


Regular Member
Suggest look at the following as the word 'responsibility' is pertinent;

A bunch of mates you all have a duty of care for each other, but as you say 'a group of other people' and you take on responsibility of group leader could be a 'can of worms' should anything happen.


Regular Member
You may be leading the walk, but that shouldn't mean you are the only one knowing where you'll be going, and keeping the route desicions to yourself. Everyone on the walk should have an idea, at the least, of where they'll be going and what it will be like, before they set out.


Regular Member
This subject comes up for informal bike rides fairly frequently. I think the reality is that no matter what you think, and no matter what bits of paper you get people to sign before the activity, if something bad happens then it is possible that the legal profession could get involved and you could find yourself in court.

I organised a ride in the Yorkshire Dales once and we came to a particularly steep and potentially dangerous descent with a hairpin bend and a gate across the road at the bottom! I stopped the group and explained that we should descend with extreme caution. Anybody not confident of their ability to do so would be better off walking down. We got down safely. To my horror, a week later a woman died after crashing on that same descent! It could be argued that it was irresponsible to go by that route?

My personal view is that adults should take responsibility for their own safety but the legal situation could be that an organiser bears responsibility when things go wrong. It would be a good idea to take out insurance just in case. I used to have a couple of million pounds worth of liability cover and about £100,000 worth of legal expenses cover on my home insurance.
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