Paul Goode (the plaintiff), a professional jockey, sustained serious injuries when his horse fell during a race on 29 June 2009. The plaintiff alleged Tye Angland (the defendant) was liable for intentionally veering his horse across the path of the plaintiff’s horse, causing it to stumble and fall.
An inquiry by Racing NSW determined that the plaintiff’s horse had been advancing uncontrollably (that is, over racing) and had moved itself into an awkward position when it stumbled and fell.
The defendant argued that he was simply following the path of the horse in front and did not intentionally veer into the path of the plaintiff’s horse. The trial judge accepted the defendant’s evidence, finding that he did not move when it was unsafe or unreasonable to do so as provided by industry convention. Furthermore, the plaintiff’s injury was found to be caused by over racing rather than any movement by the defendant. The trial judge also found that professional horse racing was a ‘recreational activity’ within s 5K of the CLA and there was a complete defence under s 5L of the CLA. The trial judge therefore found in favour of the defendant.
The plaintiff appealed the decision.
There were two central issues on appeal:
The New South Wales Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal with costs on the following basis:
In an era of CCTV, this case highlights the limited value courts place on video footage and photographic evidence in order to deduce facts, even when the evidence is obtained contemporaneously and from a known location. This case demonstrates that it is dangerous to rely too heavily on video footage or photographs unless they are supplemented by other evidence. It is therefore important to contact potential witnesses early and obtain statements where relevant, or otherwise secure their attendance at court to provide evidence in person.
This matter has broadened the interpretation of recreational activities to include professional sports. Whether a person is undertaking a sport as a professional, semi‑professional or amateur, if the activity involves a significant risk of harm (CLA s 5K), the activity falls within the scope of s 5L. Consequently, the application of the complete defence available under s 5L of the CLA has also widened. It is important to remember that the defence does not only apply to personal injury matters, but also includes harm resulting in death, property damage and economic loss (s 5 of the CLA).
 Beazley P and Meagher and Leeming JJA.