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Is the sharing economy opening itself up to public liability problems?

Across Australia, the shared economy is on the rise. This is a concept that highlights peer-to-peer-based sharing and allows individuals to rent/borrow goods rather than buy and own them outright. This model has been adopted within Canberra, where groups operate under the 'Buy Nothing' name. With popularity spreading nationwide, how does public liability fit into the scheme and could parties face problems if sharing involves public property?

Background of Buy Nothing

Whether helping people looking for a spare car seat, house-sitter or drill, Canberra's Buy Nothing groups are taking the state by sharing-economy storm. These common call-outs for help have ignited the community spirit and caught the attention of Green candidate Tim Hollo.

In an effort to assist the state's sharing economy, Hollo has offered for the groups to use his electorate office should he be elected as member of state. He has pledged that community groups can use the space for meetings, free Wi-Fi and photocopying. Hollo has even explored taking on public liability insurance if using the space for a community event.

The idea was inspired by a similar practice adopted by Brisbane Green's Councillor Jonathan Sri, who opened his office to facilitate community group meetings and allow them to use his resources. With the ideal gaining popularity, could NSW be next in adopting a similar model? If so, would everyone involved think about the repercussions of public liability like that of Canberra's Hollo?

Could the sharing economy face public liability issues?

Take both Hollo's and Sri's act of kindness for example. While opening up their space to allow members of the sharing economy groups to use government resources, they could also be opening themselves up to public liability issues. If a member of the public slipped over in the space, and there was no insurance in place, the offices could find themselves in trouble.

Whether invited, licensees or trespassers, a business or public place has a duty of care to protect anyone who enters. Therefore, they may find themselves liable if someone chooses to pursue a claim for personal injury due to an incident involving another's negligence. 

Public liability claims can take many forms. As well as slips, trips and falls, claimants may pursue compensation for a number of other causes. As an area so diverse, it pays to enlist the help of the experts when making a claim for personal injury. Get in touch with the team at Gerard Malouf & Partners today to see how we can help. 

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Gerard Malouf & Partners
 — Personal Injury Compensation Lawyers

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