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Event Organiser Liability: Minimising your exposure #1

Organising an event can be an exciting and rewarding experience, but event organisers carry with them the responsibility for keeping people safe. Doing so is a moral imperative, but the financial and legal consequences of not meeting these obligations can also be significant - including large fines, criminal convictions, and compensation payments. A catch-all term for these obligations is Liability. It makes sense that any individual would want to minimise their liability as much as possible - not only because they don’t want anyone to get hurt, but also to limit their exposure to fines and penalties if the worst does happen. 

Hazard Elimination

The best way to keep your event safe is by eliminating hazards. Your staff and attendees cannot injure themselves if you have identified and controlled all hazards properly. This process is called Risk Assessment - and to learn more you should check out our dedicated Guide to Risk Assessment blog post. By using the risk assessment process to eliminate hazards, event organisers will significantly reduce their exposure to the moral, financial, and legal consequences of injuries and ill-health. 

The risk assessment process casts a very wide net that can encompass a vast range of hazards, but in reality a large number of incidents fall into a small number of categories. By focussing your efforts on the most common causes of injury at an event site, you’ll make good progress on limiting your exposure to resulting penalties. For example, a large proportion of injuries to the public are as a result of slips, trips, and falls. It’s relatively easy to spot the causes of these - be it potholes, loose gravel, trailing cables, unmarked steps or edges, or uneven ground. Whilst you as an event organiser must make sure your Risk Assessment is thorough, take a step back and check that the simplest and most obvious hazards have been identified and controlled. When it comes to delivering your event - a small amount of extra time checking your site for the most obvious hazards may pay dividends in the long run.  

Vento frequently recommends that event organisers talk to an event safety specialist during their planning process. The cost of these consultants can sometimes represent a challenge for small event organisers - but when it comes to limiting your exposure to fines, penalties, and compensation payments, the advice of a specialist can pay for itself many times over. Not only will they help you navigate the risk assessment process, they will draw upon their expertise to keep your attendees safe and reduce the likelihood of any liability incidents occurring at your event. In addition, securing event cancellation insurance is crucial in protecting against financial losses due to unexpected cancellations, further reducing your financial risk.

Dealing with a liability incident

As an event organiser, dealing with a liability incident can be a difficult and stressful situation.  It's crucial to have protections in place such as festival liability insurance, which covers a range of potential risks from injuries to damages during the event, ensuring that both financial and legal responsibilities are managed effectively. Handling the situation properly to protect your reputation and ensure the safety of attendees. In this section, we will discuss the steps to take when dealing with a liability incident at your event, including cause analysis, PR, and remediation.

In the hours and days following a safety incident at your event, a key step is to conduct a thorough cause analysis. This involves gathering all available information about the incident, including witness statements, surveillance footage, and any other relevant data. The goal of the cause analysis is to determine the root cause of the incident and identify any contributing factors. Once the root cause has been identified, it's important to take corrective action to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future. This may involve making changes to your event's safety policies, providing additional training to staff, or implementing new techniques and processes to improve safety and security.

Managing public relations is another critical aspect of dealing with a liability incident. It's important to be transparent and communicate openly with attendees, stakeholders, and the media. This can help build trust and demonstrate your commitment to safety and responsibility. When communicating about the incident, be sure to acknowledge the situation and express empathy for any individuals impacted. Be clear and concise in your messaging, and avoid making statements that could be misconstrued or taken out of context. Provide regular updates as the situation unfolds and be available to answer any questions or concerns from attendees and stakeholders.

The final step in dealing with a liability incident is to take remedial action to address any harm caused and prevent similar incidents from happening in the future. This may involve offering goodwill gestures or refunds to attendees who were directly impacted by the incident. In some cases, the courts may require compensation to be paid to the victim(s) of the incident - in most cases such compensation would be paid by your insurer, and it would be up to them to manage this process. 

For more information on Public Liability insurance for events, or Employers' Liability for events, please contact the Vento team at