Teenage Parties – Parental Responsibility

There is a lot of concern about “compensation culture” and whether to do things or not. Much of this is whipped up by the papers, who don’t report the outcomes. A good example of this is the failure of a claim against the parent of a child hosting an end of GSCEs party by one of the guests.

One of the guests brought a large paddling pool to the party, and, a modest quantity of alcohol was consumed by the children under supervision. The children were boisterous but not drunk. The parents called the children into the house to eat, partly to calm things down. While they were there one of the boys went out, ran across the garden and attempted a belly-flop into the pool. Sadly, he misjudged the angle so as to end up carrying out more of a dive motion and struck his head on the bottom of the pool.

The claim was dismissed. Clearly, the parents owed a duty of care to the young guests, which was the same that a reasonably careful parent would show for their own child. The Judge said this required them:

“Reasonably to keep an eye on what was going on; to keep abreast of what people were doing; if matters were getting out of hand, to intervene in a reasonable manner, though not so as to spoil the party.”

The Judge confirmed the parent was not in breach of the duty of care owed to the injured boy. It was unrealistic to say that the presence of the paddling pool created a foreseeable risk of significant injury. The risk of diving into a paddling pool was obvious. The parent did not have a duty to instruct a child aged 16 about an obvious risk. Everyone was sympathetic to the boy, but that didn’t make him entitled to money to compensate him for his own foolishness. That seems common sense,

For assistance with Dispute Resolution please contact Neil Howlett in Frome or Andy Hambleton in Wells