The facts in the case of Harrison v Jagged Globe Ltd (April 2011) were very unusual, involving a world-famous explorer.
Sir Ranulph Fiennes contacted the defendant, a tour operator specialising in mountaineering expeditions, to assist with an expedition to Everest. The defendant arranged a two week course and they provided local guides for the expedition.
The trip was to be filmed for a television series. The footage for the television series was not considered interesting enough by Sir Ranulph, and so he asked the local guides to assist in staging a fall, and a subsequent rescue. The claimant agreed to be the fallen climber. In attempting to jump across the crevasse, she fell and hit her head.
However, she proceeded to carry out a second fall, during which she had great difficulty getting out of the crevasse as the rope had become entangled with the rucksack she was carrying. She subsequently claimed for personal injury sustained in each fall.
There was video and audio footage of both incidents. This showed a first staged fall which was extremely chaotic and a second, which was much better managed.
The trial judge found that the provision of assistance with staged falls did not form part of the package.
However, the guides provided by the defendant had assumed responsibility for the staged falls, by agreeing to assist with them, and this imposed a tortious duty on the defendant to provide this assistance with reasonable skill and care. The defendant was in breach of that duty, but the claimant, in agreeing to carry out the first fall, was partly responsible and her damages were therefore reduced by 40%. The defendant was not liable to the claimant for the second fall, because she had accepted the risk of injury.
The video evidence was relied upon as proof that the first fall had been poorly managed and therefore was not carried out with reasonable skill and care.
This case demonstrates that whether or not the services complained of formed part of the package, a tour operator can still be found liable in tort.