TORT LAW IN SPORTS

INTRODUCTION

Sports is something, by time has emerged in India and had become a great platform for people across the country to showcase their talent. But often while playing it, we witness certain activities, some intentionally and some unintentionally which are making it deceitful, similar to other things existing in the Country. Players are often seen facing criticism for all the legal injuries they cause while playing the sport. While some rules are given to play a sport, players violating them and doing certain activities is a common thing now. But the question is here, how that all is supposed to be regulated, or are there any existing laws or bodies which regulate it. Yes, there are certain Tort Laws that are applicable in the field of Sports. What are those and how do they work, we will find all the answers in the given article below.

WHAT IS TORT?

Derived from the word “tortum” which means “twisted”, Tort can be defined as acts or conducts which are not straight in nature, but twisted or crooked. A tort is a civil wrong, wherein some misconducts from one party lead to the infringement of the Legal Rights of another party. All the Torts are a Civil wrong however, every Civil wrong is not Tort. While, on one side the act of Tort violates the Legal Right of Plaintiffs, on the other hand, the Law of Tort ensures that every citizen should respect the Legal Right of every other person, and thus, the Law of Tort makes people accountable for all their misconducts resulting in the damage of someone’s Legal Right. There are various kinds of Torts, one is the intentional torts which include nuisances and trespass and another one is the unintentional tort which includes negligence. 

There are certain essentials of Torts as well which are as follows-

  1. Act/Omission – In order to constitute an offense of tort, there must be an act, done on the behalf of the Defendant which either can be intentional or unintentional, which means there must be some breach of duty leading to any Legal Damage. For example- Not donating to any NGOs or Firms does not amount to any Tort as if is a Moral Duty of a person to do so, however entering in someone’s premises without taking permission will amount to the tort of Trespass as in this scenario, Rights of a person is violated.
  2. Legal Damage – In order to constitute an offense of tort, there must be any breach of legal duty, amounting to damages of Legal Rights of a person. This means that to commence any offense under the ambit of a tort, the legal right of the plaintiff should have been breached.

WHAT IS SPORT LAW

Sports Law as a concept is very new to India, which means it is still developing at is at its early stage. Moreover, India also does not recognize any specific definition of Sports Law and as an outcome of it, there are several bodies or federations that look into it differently because of which, in today’s scenario many activities for which punishment should be given, they are not found. Many times, it is seen that someone’s legal right is violated but because a proper federation is not established, no action is taken because of that.

NEED OF TORT LAWS IN SPORTS

While raising the concerns regarding the misconducts happening in Sport, this question has also been raised why do need Tort Laws in Sports. There are several reasons regarding the need for Tort Laws in Sports. One of them can be the vastness of the Sports Industry. In the current scenario, we have ample numbers of games that are being played on national as well as international level and to regulate them in a well-versed lawful manner, there is a need for a set of Laws, mainly set of Tort Laws. The second reason could be to predict the applicability of Tort Laws in sports which is yet not explored. This means that in earlier instances criminal and contractual ways of dealing with any case related to the field of Sports, however, the application of Tort Laws in the field of Sports is yet not explored in a manner so that we can deal with several cases related to Sports through Law of Tort. The third reason is that the Law which is yet not codified can work as an advantage, which means that the Tort is a region wherein improvement is rarely slowed down. Not being available clearly, it has generally given law specialists a lot more extensive space for understanding and application.

TORT LAWS INVOLVED IN SPORT

Over time, we all have witnessed a lot of misconduct, especially the violent behaviors happening while playing any sports. For instance, several times it had been witnessed that players intentionally throw their baseball bats in order to threaten the opposite team. There are various provisions in the Law of Tort to deal with such acts. Such examples prove how the law of tort can be used in the favor of Plaintiff, who can use these laws for seeking compensation for all the legal injuries sustained. In this part, we are going to see laws only which can help a Plaintiff while dealing with any case wherein his Legal Right is damaged.

  1. Negligence – Unintentionally done, Negligence is a Civil Wrong, which basically occurs when someone breaches his duty of care which was supposed to be taken care of. In simple terms, we can say that negligence happens when a person fails to provide the standard care to another person which he owed as a reasonable person, resulting in causing Legal Injuries. While deciding that if any act falls under the ambit of the tort of Negligence, one must look that there was a duty of care towards the plaintiff which was not followed while conducting the act and hence it resulted in the infringement of Legal Rights of the Plaintiff.
  2. Recklessness – Reckless behaviour forms a major element in the law of tort. A person is taken as reckless when he knows or ought to be known that his act/conduct is likely to cause injury to another but still is left unheeded or ignorant to such risk or any probable consequences arising out of it and carries out the conduct anyway.
  3. Intentional Torts (Assaults and Battery) – Battery is when a person with intention uses physical force to inflict harm on someone and also causes such harm to another by physical contact. Assault on the other hand only requires a person to act upon intending to cause a violent act that has caused reasonable apprehension in the mind of the other party. It doesn’t matter if what damage the person caused was unpremeditated, or if the person was not even the target in the first place. It will anyway bring the person liable for an assault.

DEFENSES

While fighting any case under the ambit of the law of tort, there are many essential elements which is necessary to consider. Essentials such as duty of care and its violation are a necessity to be considered while judging any offense under the provisions of Tort, similarly, situations falling under the category of defenses should also be considered. This means a person can absolve himself if any of his wrongful acts fall under the category of defenses.

  1. Contributory Negligence – In many cases, when any wrongful act is being commenced, we all witness that both or all the parties involved had their contribution to it. In simple terms, it means that in this tort, the defendant, as well as the plaintiff both, are equally responsible for not taking due care. Contributory negligence basically means that the plaintiff himself is negligent and thus he himself becomes the direct cause of the damages.
  2. Volenti Non-fit Injuria – The principle of Volenti Non-fit Injuria says that the plaintiff/claimant involved in any of the cases, knew the risk involved in the done act and he himself gave the consent after being aware of the risk involved in it. This simply means that Plaintiff knew that the existing risk and now he himself is liable for the damages incurred. This principle is, ‘based on knowledge, comprehension, and appreciation of the risk.

CONCLUSION

Over time, sports as a platform has grown as so has its nature, commercialization, and marketing. Increasing opportunities have also come with increasing aggressiveness, which often is promoted for the entertainment of the audiences. There are many players who do not play the game with a spirit and always land up causing several misconducts, making themselves to the headlines. However, these acts are not at all entertaining but they cause harm to other players. Such instances prove that in the current scenario it is very necessary for all for us to have a strict application Law of Torts. Such applications will punish all those offenders who by the means of Sports cause harm to other players. Apart from punishing, such applications will also act as a Precedent for all the upcoming events or cases.

Author(s) Name: Alka Verma (MMM’ Shankarrao Chavan Law College)

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