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wicklow way

The €40k hiking damages judgement will be appealed as hillwalkers fight back

Mountaineering Ireland says personal responsibility is important.

MOUNTAINEERING IRELAND (MI) HAS said that today’s €40,000 damages award for a woman who fell while hiking is contrary to a “long held and proud tradition” of mountaineering.

The group, which represents Ireland’s hillwalkers and climbers, says that personal responsibility is an important principle of the hobby and that this must be understood by the courts.

“The mountaineering community has a long held and proud tradition of personal responsibility,” according to Mountaineering Ireland president Paul Kellagher.

Mountaineering Ireland feels that today’s judgment runs contrary to this long established principle. We cannot continue to live our lives without the acceptance of personal responsibility, in the belief that every misfortune is someone else’s responsibility.

Kellagher was reacting to the decision to award €40,000 in damages to Teresa Wall who suffered a gash to her knee while walking the Wicklow Way in August 2013.

The 59-year-old housewife says that her foot got snagged in a hole in one of the old railway sleepers that made up a boardwalk placed on the land by the Parks and Wildlife Service.

Judge Jacqueline Linnane said in her judgement that it was clear from photographs that the railway sleepers were badly rotted.

During the case, the National Parks and Wildlife Service argued that the boardwalk was there to support the bog primarily for conservation, not recreation, and therefore the higher duty of care argued by Wall’s legal team did not apply.

This argument was also put forward this evening by Mountaineering Ireland. The group added that the relevant law recognised that a degree of risk is inherent in hillwalking.

It is important to note that this case deals specifically with structures and that the Occupiers’ Liability Act is clearer with regard to natural features in the landscape. The law recognises that a degree of risk is inherent to hillwalking and other outdoor activities arising from a combination of the activity itself, changeable weather conditions and the character of the natural environment.

“Participants in outdoor activities are assumed to be aware of and take responsibility for managing these risks.”

It is understood that the State Claims Agency intends to appeal today’s judgement.

Read: Walker who fell and cut her knee while hiking Wicklow Way wins €40k in damages >

Read: Walker sues for €60k after falling and cutting her knee while hiking Wicklow Way >

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