I’d like to gauge the opinions of the various 'spaces around the UK about your approaches or views on liability for accidents / incidents that take result from member activity.
At Bristol Hackspace we have tried to mitigate risk with training for dangerous tools, risk assessments, the usual stuff. But there’s still the niggling concern that a litigious person on the receiving end of some nastiness could ultimately come after the Directors or Trustees personal assets. Fortunately we’ve not been in the position of having to test our insurance up to this point, and hope it’d cover us. But who knows what wiggle room the contract has… I suspect rather
Some will doubtless say “it’ll be fine, never gonna happen” while others tend towards a more doom laden scenario.
I’d like to provoke the discussion and see where it goes.
My understanding of this (and of course, IANAL) is that as long as you are a limited libaility entity, then the assets of individuals is protected.
Even if your insurance doesn’t pay out, the worst-case scenario should be that the entity has to be liquidated to pay for awarded damages.
I may, of course, be completely and utterly wrong!
Newbury Hackspace is a Company Limited by Guarantee, i.e. if someone
sues the Hackspace the most they can get is the number of members
multiplied by the guarantee amount (£1), each individual member is only
liable for £1.
The way I describe it to new members is that if they decide to sue the
space they’ll basically destroy the Hackspace and gain very little.
I’m not sure this is quite right - if you’ve got £30,000 in the bank, then someone could sue you and win that. But if the entity has no other assets, then the most it is liable for is £1 x number of members.
(£30,000 was just a figure plucked out of the air!)
Directors are criminally liable for negligence regarding health and safety so you need to take your risk assessments, etc. seriously. However I read about a case where an injured employee sued a director after the company closed and the insurance didn’t cover his activity, the supreme court found that criminal liability did not imply civil liability and so it was turned down. You can get indemnity cover as part of your insurance. If in doubt best to get proper legal advice from someone who is qualified.