In May last year, we reported on the growing concern among landowners following the decision awarding €40,000 in damages to a hill walker in Wicklow against the National Parks and Wildlife Service.
Legislation provides that landowners must ensure that they do not injure recreational users intentionally or act with reckless disregard for the recreational user. Where a structure is provided for use primarily by such recreational users, landowners owe a duty to take reasonable care to maintain the structure in a safe condition.
On appeal, the High Court examined the nature of this duty of care for hillwalkers. The High Court found that it was necessary for the standard of care to be adapted to the conditions and that it was not an "absolute or strict" duty – hillwalkers need to exercise care. It found that not filling in the indentations in the boardwalk or replacing the sleepers was not negligence on the part of the National Parks and Wildlife Service.
This decision will be very welcome by landowners of property used without charge for recreational activity.