Sponsors warned about their legal liability

Sponsors risk being held liable for the events they sponsor, leaving themselves open to multimillion-pound lawsuits, delegates were told at a conference in London yesterday (Tuesday).

Too few enter into deals with adequate contracts and legal cover, warned Warren Phelops, head of the sports law group at solicitor Nicholson Graham & Jones, in his address to the Eighth National Sponsorship Conference.

“Sponsors are demanding greater control of the events they sponsor,” he explained. He added it is increasingly possible that a sponsor could be held liable for public safety or even corporate manslaughter should a partici-pant or spectator at a sponsored event be injured or die.

One typical scenario might involve a sponsored publication which includes a defamatory article. The subject of the defamation could sue the sponsor.

Or, he added, if a major tragedy occurs at a broadcast sponsorship involving a live sports event, bereaved families could have grounds for claiming for nervous shock and psychological damage. “There is no clear guidance under UK law. In the absence of this, sponsors could be held liable.”

Sponsors must protect themselves by ensuring they have properly drawn-up contracts and sound legal advice, Phelops said.

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