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Fixed Aids In Caves

Ed. note:           the following section is of particular interest to members of the club and I hope that the Club Officers concerned read this and take the necessary action….

Fixed aids in caves divide into two types - those maintained by someone and those which are not maintained.

Fixed aids maintained by someone.  If someone takes it upon himself to maintain fixed aids in a cave then if a person was injured as a result of a failure of a fixed aid then the person who maintained them could successfully be sued for negligence.  An example of this would be where a club has installed several fixed ladders, leads trips down the cave and carries out repair work on those ladders. If one of the ladders failed and someone was injured then the club might well be liable for damages (assuming of course that the injured party sued).  It is obviously difficult to state whether a fixed aid is maintained or not and this is something which, in the event of a legal action, would be one of the major issues for a court to decide.  But, in the present legal climate, if there was fixed steel ladder which had failed, then it would be difficult for whoever had installed it or had been the last person to paint it to escape legal liability of sued.

Fixed aids not maintained by anyone.  Examples of these are the rawlbolts at the head of pitches.  The point here is that it is up to the caver to decide whether to use the aid or not.  For example, a caver at the head of a pitch has the choice of using a bolt or putting a tether round a rock flake.  It is up to him to decide which is the safer.  With the bolt there is a risk of it coming out.  With the flake it might break or the tether might slip off.  The person who has to make the decision as to which one he is going to use is the caver on the spot and he can hardly sue anyone if he makes the wrong decision.

So, to sum it up: if someone looks after a fixed aid or alternatively the aid is the only way the caver can traverse the next bit of passage so he has to use it, then there is a possibility that if a caver is injured he might be able to successfully sue the person who, either maintains the aid or who installed it.  But, if no one maintains the aid and there is a choice of whether to use the aid or not, then it is unlikely that a caver would be able to sue anyone for damages following injuries resulting from the use of the fixed aid.

Current Cuthbert’s Leaders List

compiled by Martin Grass,

(Ed. note:  Since writing the editorial, Martin Grass has produced the latest list of current leaders.  Though the situation is not as bad as the Editorial suggests the subject still need airing.  Some leaders who have insurance cover have stated that they will only be taking their private parties down the cave – so please let’s have your comments as soon as possible and fully air the problem.  ‘Wig.’)

The Saint Cuthbert’s lock was changed at the beginning of January and we now have 14 leaders who have produced their insurance policies and have been issued with new keys.  The list of current leaders is as follows: -

Colin Clarke

Colin Dooley

Martin Grass

Ken Gregory (Cerberus C.C.)

Dave Irwin

Mick Jordan (S.M.C.C.)

Oliver Lloyd

Andy MacGregor

Tony Meadon

Gay Mayrick (S.M.C.C.)

Brian Prewer

Graham Price (Cerberus C.C.)

Nigel Taylor

Dave Turner