Is a Child’s Waiver of Liability Binding When Signed by a Parent?

Last week, we commented on a recent court case where plaintiffs Deanna Loychuk and Danielle Westgeest believed the recreational waivers they signed before embarking on a ziplining adventure were unenforceable. The judge found in favour of the defendants, Cougar Mountain Adventures, saying that the signed waivers were a complete defence to any liability.

This week, we want to provide further commentary on waiver-liability issues.

In Wong v. Lok’s Martial Arts Centre Inc., 12-year-old “infant” plaintiff Victor Wong is injured when he is violently thrown to the ground during a sparring match at Lok’s Martial Arts Centre Inc.

Michael Lok, principal of the Martial Arts Centre and defendant in the case, denies negligence. He notes that a written notice visibly posted in the training facility reminds students and staff that they participate “at his/her own risk.” More importantly, he says the Membership and Release document, signed by the plaintiff’s mother, waives them of liability.

The judge finds that the Release is reasonable and, under normal circumstances, would excuse the defendant from negligence.

The Infants Act, however, states that a parent or guardian may not bind a minor (or “infant”) to a release agreement. Because of this, the judge finds in favour of the infant plaintiff.

So, in short, the answer to our title question is no: a waiver is not binding when signed by a parent or guardian on behalf of their minor child.

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Saro Turner
Saro joined Slater Vecchio LLP in June 2009. In addition to compensation for pain and suffering, he has obtained compensation for past and future loss of income, health care expenses and more.