Children’s parties – when merriment turns to misery

With Prince George’s 9th birthday around the corner, preparations for a royal party are likely to be in full swing.

18th July 2022

While most children’s parties may not reach royal standards, they are usually a heady mix of celebration and fun for family and friends. Activity-based parties, such as paintballing, climbing walls, petting zoos and bouncy castles, are certainly fun but also riskier than ever before.

What happens if someone is injured at a party? Are parents and guardians legally responsible for making sure the party venue is safe? And if a parent leaves their child at a party alone, are the hosts responsible for their safety?

Lewys Traylor, Legal Adviser at DAS Law, explains where the law stands and gives party organisers the information they need to know.

Who is responsible if a child is injured at a party?

The responsibility of ensuring a child’s safety at a party lies with the host.  This could be the parents or guardians if they are holding a child’s party in their home, as they owe a duty of care to visitors.  If they are hosting a party at a venue such as a sports hall, activity centre or church hall for example, then the owner of the venue will have an obligation to ensure that they remove any potential risks that could cause a child to be injured.  Failure to do this could result in a personal injury claim being pursued against them.

Who is responsible for ensuring the safety of children using the party’s entertainment facilities such as a bouncy castle, giant slides and animals at the mobile petting zoo?

In many cases, the operator is likely to be responsible for accidents sustained while using entertainment facilities such as bouncy castles, giant slides and animals at a mobile petting zoo. 

You could however be liable if you have hired equipment and failed to ensure that children are adequately supervised in using this equipment, either by yourself or by arranging a host from the venue where the party is being held.

If I am the host, what are my legal responsibilities to ensure the safety of all guests?

If you are hosting a children’s party, you should ensure that you carry out a risk assessment to identify any hazards that could result in an injury being sustained by any of your guests.  To be liable for a personal injury claim, the guest would have to evidence that you have been negligent and that any injury was reasonably foreseeable.

Even where parents are present, you still have a duty of care to all persons visiting your property.  If children are injured under the supervision of their parents, then this likely to be an argument that you can raise in defence or mitigation but ultimately if the injury was due to a risk not removed on your property you would be liable.

Do I have additional responsibilities to ensure the safety of children who may attend the party without their parents?

Your level of responsibility will depend on where the party is being held.  If the venue is your home then you have a duty of care to ensure the safety of that child whilst in your care.  The duty is higher in the cases of children as opposed to adults who attend your home and they are deemed to have a lower understanding of what may pose a danger to them.  If the party is being held at an alternative location such as a leisure centre or a trampoline park, then your level of responsibility will depend on whether the venue has appointed someone to supervise the activity.

Would my home insurance policy provide protection against any claim made against me?

Your home insurance may provide protection if someone tries to pursue a claim against you.  You should contact your insurance provider in the event of legal action being threatened against you.  It may also be worth contacting your insurance provider prior to hosting a birthday party to ensure that you have the appropriate insurance in place.

If I am hiring party/entertainment facilities, what is the necessary safety or insurance documents I should ask to see from the supplier?

If hiring a party or entertainments facility, you should ask to see a copy of their public liability insurance and should be very careful of booking any supplier who refuses to provide it or confirms that they do not have insurance.