Abstract: The young girl Vanessa, aged ten, was taking part in a football training session within the framework of a team organized by the association of the young firemen of Charost, in which she occupied the position of goalkeeper, when she was injured by a ball shot at her by Mr. Y, the assistant trainer who had been charged with the supervision.
Vanessa’s parents, as the legal guardians of their minor aged daughter, held Mr. Y, the association of the young firemen of Charost and the insurance company Allianz responsible and sued for compensation for the undergone damages.
On first instance and on appeal, the courts held that the parents could not claim for damages on the basis of Article 1384, paragraph 1, of the French Civil Code, the core text for establishing a strict liability regime (responsabilité objective or responsabilité du fait des choses). The justification for this was that in participating, the young girl had accepted the risks linked to the activity and had therefore given up her right to claim reparations in case of any prejudice which she could suffer in the course of that activity.
In its decision of cassation for violation of the law, however, the second Chambre Civile of the Cour de Cassation rejected the ‘assumption of risk’ theory. More precisely, it held that the fact that the child was participating in a pedagogical activity under the authority and supervision of a trainer excluded the assumption of risk.
As a result of this decision, the theory of the assumption of risk now has a more restricted scope in sports (it thus seems to be limited to competition games). The next question is whether it should be completely abandoned or not, especially considering the fact that in sports competitions, the associations or clubs must have insurance.European Review of Private Law