In English tort law, Volenti is a full defence providing the defendant is able to prove the two required elements:
- The claimant was fully aware of all the risks involved; and
- The claimant expressly (by statement) or implicitly (by actions) consented to give up all claims for damages.
Watson consented to the fight, which would ordinarily be considered a defence of Volenti but this consent was not consent to the inadequate safety measures provided by the British Boxing Board of Control (BBBC). The rules on medical coverage, provided that two doctors were to be present at all times during boxing matches. During the match, Watson was knocked out by Chris Eubank and it was seven minutes before doctors arrived to treat him, he received no oxygen in that time and spent 40 days in a coma. When he regained consciousness, Watson sued the BBBC on the basis that they had put the rules in place to ensure a boxer’s safety and as such owed him a duty of care which they were in breach of. The BBBC were found to be at fault for not ensuring that he was properly and immediately treated. Watson was successful in his compensation claim.
So even if you have suffered personal injury by partaking in an event or sport where you have consented to the risk of injury, it is worth seeking legal advice, as there may be others that owe you a duty of care; have breached that duty of care, making you entitled to personal injury compensation.