Event organization is in most cases a complex undertaking preceded by long preparation. But even the best planning can not prevent liability from the possible damages and financial consequences associated with them. The organization’s liability for damages from the event is a very broad subject. This article only covers selected cases of damage and basic information about liability for these damages.
In the case of events, we can deal with personal injury (e.g. injury to a participant of an event) as well as property damage (e.g. damage to equipment). In addition, the liability of the organizer may be related to the damage related to the event itself (e.g. failure to meet a deadline) as well as to the damage caused to it during direct preparation (installation) or during the event.
The most common cases of damage: injury to a person participating in the event, injury to persons taking part in the preparation and during the course of the event (e.g. employees), material damage to the facilities used by the event organizer or the property entrusted to him (e.g. lighting equipment, sound equipment), or finally damage to the ordering party due to cancellation due to the fault of the organizer or improper preparation.
In the cases mentioned above, we can deal with two types of liability: (1) contractual liability, the responsibility for non-performance or improper performance of the contract under article 471 of the Civil Code; and (2) tort liability, the liability for a forbidden act causing harm to someone due to wrongdoing based on article 415 of the Civil Code.
One of the most common form of damage occurring during events is damage to objects. There is no doubt that if they arise in connection with the activities of the event organizer, the organizer will in principle be responsible for them. For the owner (manager) of the facility it is irrelevant whether the damage will be due to the action of the organizer or its subcontractor. Therefore, it is extremely important to define the rules of use of the facility, including the scope of possible adaptation works, the definition of the rules and the date of the takeover and the final acceptance of the object, and the regulation of liability in relation to subcontractors.
Another aspect is the responsibility of the organizer of the mass event for damages in the form of damaged or destroyed property of: the Police, the Military Police, the Municipal Police, the State Fire Service and the Health Service in connection with their activities at the place and during the mass event (this case was regulated in Article 52 of the Act of 20 March 2009 on the Safety of Mass Events). The responsibility of the organizer is absolute and in each case results in the obligation to pay compensation. There are no grounds for exclusion (e.g. exclusive guilt of the injured party or a third party), and the injurious actions are not unlawful.
However, it is important to emphasize that the organizer’s liability is limited only to damages that occurred at the place of the event and during the event. This also includes the damage to the property of the aforementioned services. For the damage to property of other entities (e.g. cleaning services, other services, or volunteers) involved in securing the event, the organizer will be liable on the basis of fault (article 415 of the Civil Code).
Another situation that is worth considering is cancelling the event. If the ordering party demonstrates that due to cancellation of the event the organizer has suffered damages, it may claim damages pursuant to statutory law. The parties may also stipulate in the contract that compensation for the loss resulting from the failure to perform the contract shall be effected by payment of a specified contractual penalty. In this case unless the parties agree otherwise the contracting authority will not be able to claim damages pursuant to statutory law.
Taking into consideration the above risks associated with the organization of an event, it is essential for the event organizer to ensure (apart from a properly structured contract) that they have proper insurance – also when entering into such an agreement is not required by statutory law. We should assess the risks that we expect. Particular attention should also be paid to the exclusion of liability for which the insurer does not pay compensation and in this respect it is obligatory to read carefully the insurance contract and the general terms and conditions of the insurance company.