A high time for Tort Law in Bangladesh perhaps?

The organizers of an event have a special duty to the guests attending it to ensure that the event premises is reasonably safe. It begins throughout the event planning; what steps they need to take when things go wrong to prevent accidents. This ‘duty of care’ is bestowed upon by the law of tort which unfortunately we are deprived from. In a country like ours, events are so common that there is even a Bengali proverb that says, “in twelve months, we have thirteen events”.

A Large gathering of crowd is accident prone and but due to the absence of regulation, no one is held responsible. Events come and go, but the victim of a mishap and their families grieve all their lives. The fact that liability of an event organizer or any such entity exists is undeniable. Call it ignorance or adaptability, but we never bother knowing our rights beyond what is already there. Just like how we underestimate the need of tort law in the country.

The Law of Tort talks about negligence and duty of care which forms the base of such sort of claims. Claims arising from events is not new around the world. In the United Kingdom, the courts in the case of Francis v Cockrell held that a contract existed between the spectator and the occupier with an implied term ensuring a reasonable standard of safety. There is also an ‘Occupiers Liability Act’ which imposes a duty on the occupier of a premises to all his visitors. This can even make the landowner liable along with the organizer of an event.

In Australia, the law governing crowd safety is more advanced, having a dedicated law called the Major Sporting Events Act 2009. Our neighbouring country India has realised the significance of tort law as it can be observed in recent case laws.

The emergence of law of tort in Bangladesh arose on many occasions but most of the time the offenders escaped liability due to the absence of a proper regulation. The concern was further raised very recently on a youth event organized by an ancillary of a popular daily newspaper.

A ninth grader of a renowned school in Dhaka, Naimul Abrar, died of electrocution during the concert at the playground of the school. The organizers were providing electricity via a generator which was close to the stage. Abrar and his friends were sitting near it and at one point, he fell over the generator and got entangled in electric wires. He died soon after he was electrocuted. This could have been prevented if the generator was kept secluded or at least kept inside a barrier. The event being inside a school premises and the organizers, one of the top companies in the country, this was unexpected by many.

Conducting risk assessments before any event is the least an organizer could do. This includes checking whether there are any loose wires, or the generator has been kept at a safe distance. It is simply applying common sense, identifying the hazards and making sure the attendees are safe from them. Along with it, they should also observe their legal duty towards their guests.

The absence of a law is just as harmful as offenders realising, they are legally immune. Just like no one should be made to pay for other’s mistake, the guilty must be brought under the purview of justice. Incidents like this will continue, so will injustice towards victims if tort law is not implemented in the country.

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