Speaking on the High Court verdict that overturned the award of €40,000 made by a Circuit Court to a hill walker injured after tripping on a NPWS maintained boardwalk on the Wicklow Way, the ICMSA President, John Comer, said that the decision represented “a very welcome application of reality and responsibility” to what was in danger of becoming a chaotic situation that stripped landowners of all protection while absolving walkers of any responsibilities.
“Mr. Justice Michael White has, we think, come down on the side of fairness and reality in this decision. Had the original award been allowed stand, it would simply have destroyed any prospect of a working relationship between landowners, local and national agencies and walkers. There has to be some reasonable degree of responsibility assumed by walkers and the idea that any injury suffered in the pursuit of your hobby – which you are being allowed to enjoy through the generosity of other individuals and agencies – gives you scope to sue those benefactors is very unfair and unworkable. ICMSA has always defended the rights of farmers and other landowners who were berated for not permitting all and any walkers to use their land for the purposes of walking or leisure without adequate legal protections or clarifications being established. We warned time and again that the legal situation was too vague and that scope for precisely this kind of legal action was easily identifiable. Mr. Justice White’s identification of negligence on the part of the walker is no more than a reasonable request that individuals must accept some reasonable degree responsibility for their own welfare if a system of public walkways and publicly maintained nature trails was to be at all possible”, said the ICMSA President.
Ends 17 February 2017.
John Comer, 087-2057846
Cathal MacCarthy, 087-6168758
ICMSA Press Office