The Court of Appeal has upheld a lower court's decision that a former scout who was injured while playing a game is entitled to compensation.
Mark Barnes, now 23, was injured when he was 13 while playing a game called ‘objects in the dark’ with other members of his scout group. In the game, which was being supervised by three adults, wooden blocks are left in the middle of the floor – one less than the number of players – and the lights are turned off, at which point each player must retrieve a block to stay in the game.
In his attempt to find one of the blocks, Mr Barnes stumbled into a bench standing against the wall and suffered a permanent injury to his shoulder.
When the case came before the County Court, the judge found that the Scout Association had breached its duty of care to the boy, as playing the game with the lights off was too dangerous, and awarded Mr Barnes £7,322. The Scout Association appealed against the ruling.
The Court of Appeal held, by a majority of two to one, that the lower court’s decision was correct. The game could easily have been played with the lights on, in which case the injury would probably have been avoided. The dissenting judge was not satisfied that the judge in the lower court had weighed the risk of injury posed by the game against the social benefits of the activity. The other two judges disagreed, however. In their view, consideration had been given to the increased social value of playing the game in the dark as opposed to with the lights on, which was found to be negligible.