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High Court Considers “Dangerous Recreational Activity”

Dangerous Recreational Activity

In the recent case of Tapp v Australian Bushmen’s Campdraft & Rodeo Association Limited [2022] HCA 11.

On 6 April 2022 the High Court held that the Respondent had breached its duty of care, that breach caused Ms Tapp’s injuries, and Ms Tapp’s injuries were not the result of the materialization of an obvious risk of dangerous recreational activity. This is a turning point for all personal injury claims that fall under dangerous recreational activity.


Ms Tapp was an experienced and very able horse rider and campdraft contestant. On 8 January 2011 during an event organized by the Respondent Australian Bushmen’s Campdraft & Rodeo Association Ltd, four contestants had fallen whilst competing. After the first three falls, another contestant approached one of the event organisers and said that the competition should cease as the ground was becoming slippery. The organisers continued the competition.

After the fourth fall, it was again stated by a contestant to the organisers that the ground was “unsafe”. The organisers delayed the competition to discuss the conditions but decided to continue. This is a turning point in the case.

Ms Tapp competed and fell when her horse slipped on the ground of the arena. She suffered a serious spinal injury. The case went to trial in the Supreme Court whereby it held that the respondent did not breach its duty as the injuries were a result of the materialization of an obvious risk.

The High Court allowed the Appeal and stated that a reasonable person in the Respondent’s position would have foreseen a probability of harm would occur if the competition was not stopped. While camp drafting was a dangerous recreational activity, the harm was not the materialisation of an obvious risk of that activity. The risk was an elevated risk of physical injury by falling from a horse that slipped due to the deterioration of the area surface. The risk would not have been obvious to a reasonable person in Ms Tapp’s position, so the respondent was liable for negligence.

This case will assist many in the obvious risk that arises from dangerous recreational activities. See the case at Tapp v Australian Bushmen’s Campdraft & Rodeo Association Limited [2022] HCA 11.


Karena Nicholls

Karena is a Partner at Coutts and is the Head of our Injury Compensation (with extensive knowledge in personal injury) and Employment Law teams. She is passionate and dedicated to helping her clients understand their rights and obligations and advising them on the best course of action to achieve their desired outcomes. It is her practical and client-orientated approach that has attributed to her authentic reputation positioning her as a highly regarded compensation and employment lawyer.

For further information please don’t hesitate to contact:

Karena Nicholls
1300 268 887

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