Headshot of Libby Campbell - Solicitor at Everingham Solomons Tamworth

On 6 April 2022 the High Court handed down their decision, overturning the previous Supreme Court and Court of Appeal decision, of Tapp v Australian Bushmen’s Campdraft & Rodeo Association Ltd.

Ms Tapp, who was 19 at the time, was competing in a campdrafting competition near Scone. There had already been two days of competition and Ms Tapp was competing at approximately 7pm on the second day. In the hour prior to Ms Tapp’s run, there had been four contestants fall and they had been described as “bad falls”. There were also two warnings provided by a fellow experienced contestant that the campdraft needed to be stopped as “the ground was getting a bit slippery”. The Committee did pause the event on two occasions and conferred with each other concluding that the riders would need to ride to the conditions and that the competition should proceed noting it would be unfair to stop as other competitors had already ridden on the current surface. It was accepted that the ground prior to Ms Tapp’s ride was identified “as being dangerous”. Ms Tapp then competed and was in the main arena when the front feet of the horse she was riding slipped on the ground of the arena causing the horse and Ms Tapp to fall, resulting in a serious spinal injury to Ms Tapp.

The High Court held by a majority 3/2, that the association had breached its duty, the breach caused the injury, and the injuries were not the result of an obvious risk of a dangerous recreational activity. Ms Tapp did not know about the earlier falls and had not inspected the track and therefore the risk of injury was not obvious to her. Ms Tapp’s injuries were not caused by her participation in a dangerous recreational activity, but rather it was caused by the dangerous surface of the arena, which was not obvious to a reasonable person. For all your legal needs contact Everingham Solomons because Helping You is Our Business.

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