The Australian Consumer Law (ACL) is a crucial document which outlines the rights of Australian consumers. Under the ACL, certain activities and services can be considered as recreational activities. It is essential to know whether your business falls under this category, as it will have different effects on your business if unexpected costs or losses arise. This article will explain whether your company is providing recreational activities under the ACL and what this will mean for you.

What are Recreational Activities Under the ACL?

Under the ACL, recreational services are those that involve participation in a sporting activity or a similar leisure activity. It can also include any activity that involves a significant degree of physical exertion or risk for: 

  • recreation; 
  • enjoyment; or 
  • leisure.

Some examples of recreational services include:

  • bungee jumping;
  • skateboarding workshops;
  • rock climbing walls; and
  • a local cricket club.

If your business offers recreational services, you need to be aware of your responsibilities under the ACL.

Guarantees Under the ACL

The ACL outlines certain guarantees that you must provide customers in all circumstances. Three of these are especially crucial to consider if you run a recreational business.

Firstly, the services your business provides must be fit for the purpose which you told the customer they would be about.

For example, if you run a beginner skateboard workshop which is actually an advanced class, it will not be fit for purpose under the ACL.  

Secondly, you must provide any goods or services with care and skill.

For example, say you provide cricket training and one of your bats snaps in half while a customer is using it. If the bat was worn-down and old, you may not have provided adequate due care and skill.

Thirdly, you must provide your goods or services within a reasonable time frame.

For example, if you need to cancel a fitness class because the instructor is sick, it is not reasonable to issue a class making up for it three months later.

You cannot exclude any of your consumer guarantees if you provide recreational services. This means you cannot ask a minor to exclude or modify their rights under the ACL. You also cannot ask a parent or guardian to do it on their behalf.

How to Protect Your Business

If you run a business which offers recreational activities, you may need to have a waiver form on hand. A waiver form is a legal document that allows you to limit your legal responsibility for any recreational services you provide. 

For example, it is commonplace within skydiving businesses that customers sign a waiver stating they will not hold the company legally responsible if anything goes wrong.

The waiver form will outline: 

  • the services you provide;
  • who the parties are; and 
  • that the customer accepts certain risks.

Your customers will need to sign this form before they engage in any of your business’s recreational activities. When your clients sign the waiver form, they are effectively waiving their right to sue you. 

However, if a customer suffers a serious injury due to your reckless conduct, they will still be able to hold you legally responsible.

Reckless conduct is conduct that you were aware (or should have been aware) could result in an injury to your customer. If you engage in that conduct despite the risk and without justification, you will have been acting recklessly.

For example, if you take beginner skateboarders to skateparks designed for advanced riders, your conduct will likely have been reckless.

It is important to note that each state in Australia has different requirements for businesses providing ‘recreational activities’. Certain states have a prescribed waiver form that you must use. 

Another way to protect your business is to have a robust and comprehensive terms and conditions document to provide to your customers. Both you and your clients must understand each other’s obligations and responsibilities before engaging in any recreational activities.

Key Takeaways

The ACL is a crucial piece of legislation which outlines the rights of consumers. It is essential to check whether your business provides services that are considered recreational activities under the ACL. If so, you should make sure you have a detailed waiver form prepared to limit your legal responsibility. If you have any questions about the ACL or your legal responsibilities, contact LegalVision’s competition lawyers on 1300 544 755 or fill out the form on this page.

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