Online Agreements: Do “Releases” Really Work?


We’ve all agreed to releases and waivers. We do it on paper, before bungee jumping, skiing or attending a kids’ birthday party. Or we agree online, before booking an event, ordering a product or downloading software. This is the fine print that essentially says that the operator or vendor has no liability or limited liability for any injury, damages or loss. Do these hold up in court?

In a recent case (Loychuk v. Cougar Mountain Adventures Ltd., 2011 BCSC 193) the BC Supreme Court had to consider this question in connection with an injury from ziplining. Prior to booking the activity online, the participants were advised on the website that a waiver of liability was required in order to participate in the activity. It was a one-pager entitled “RELEASE OF LIABILITY, WAIVER OF CLAIMS AND ASSUMPTION OF RISK AGREEMENT”. The participants signed a paper copy of the release before ziplining, and an injury occurred. The court dismissed the personal injury lawsuit on the basis of the release, confirming a long line of cases upholding such clauses.

Vendors and operators who wish to make use of such clauses in their online agreements should take care in drafting and implementing the terms. 


Calgary – 07:00 MST


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