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UK: law's purpose not "to stifle the spirit of adventure"

As longtime readers of this site are aware, courts in the United Kingdom have issued a number of ringing statements in defense of the principle of assumption of risk, citing it in particular as a bulwark of "the liberty of the citizen" to enter into life and its hazards fully. Recently Alex Wade at the Times Online law blog reported on the British courts' dismissal of a private prosecution action aimed at three men, including a mountaineering guide and a climbing expert, whose lack of due care allegedly helped contribute to the death of climber Michael Matthews on Mt. Everest. Although precedent indicated that mountaineering guides could be held liable for substandard practice which lead to injury, the court dismissed the criminal proceeding in "no uncertain terms," writes Wade.

"It is not the purpose of the criminal law to stifle the spirit of adventure or inhibit personal ambitions," Judge Rivlin, QC, told Southwark Crown Court. The judge was firmly of the view that Mr Matthews' death was "one of the many tragic accidents for which Mount Everest´┐Ż has become deservedly notorious."



Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Manhattan Institute


Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.