9 things that happen when legal brains attend music festivals

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By Briana Maguire on

Have lawyers and law students been trained to be on constant watch for potential legal issues — or can they simply enjoy the show?


1. Breaches of contractual duties

Keeping ‘em waiting … and waiting. If a performer fails to show up or sing — do law students in the crowd immediately start thinking about breaches of contractual duties? Do they assess the possible remedies and damages available? Is it right that the courts are unlikely to order specific performance for contracts for personal service?

2. Compensation

Bloody hell — the bastard stage has gone and collapsed. Worst-case scenario: injury and death to spectators and performers alike. Who is to blame? The landowner of the venue? The concert organisers? The workers who built the stage? What factors would a court consider when calculating the amount of financial compensation to be awarded to the victims?

3. Appropriation of property

A tie-dye tank-top, welly-wearing festival-goer drunkenly stumbles into the wrong camping tent. Does that amount to breaking and entering? The same piss-head walks away with someone else’s stuff. Does this amount to theft? Did he “dishonestly” appropriate property belonging to another? Is the defence of intoxication available to him?

4. Public intoxication

An undercover cop catches you smoking an illegal substance while taking a wee on a tent. Are you facing a possession of drugs charge — or (depending on the amount) should you also fear an intent to sell charge? Could there be a public intoxication charge for you to contend with?

5. Adverse possession

You and your mate are having such a rollicking good time that you both refuse to leave the campground after the show. If everyone else has gone and you’re in exclusive possession of the land would that give rise to the start of an adverse possession claim? Here, a law student would helpfully pipe up that attendees had a licence to occupy/live on the land for the weekend, but they are now trespassing against the title owner’s wishes.

6. Public indecency

Its not uncommon to see scantily clad — even topless — attendees perched on the shoulders of a recently made festival acquaintance. Would a law student consider this act one of public indecency, knowing the legal consequences associated with such? And if that passionate #freethenipple advocate is photographed topless without express permission does that constitute pornography? If the picture is posted online, can the owner of the picture be sued?

7. Acting recklessly

Surf’s up. Do festival-going punters assume all risks when they accepting the terms and conditions associated with a show? For example, what are the personal injury implications for someone who climbs on a roof, or scrambles up scaffolding, or runs on top of a row of toilets — then falls and is seriously hurt? What about crowd surfing injuries? Or if the gates are crashed and someone is trampled in the midst of chaos? What is a foreseeable consequence of acting recklessly? Is the festival organizer absolved of all liability for injuries sustained during the show?

8. Duty of care

What about The Man? How far does the duty of care extend on the part of security guards and paramedics? Employment contracts outline their roles but should they have to risk personal injury to themselves in breaking up fights or dealing with an unruly attendee who is resisting arrest? Is it negligent if they fail to intervene in a perilous situation?

9. Part-payment of debts

It’s all about the money. With ticket prices sky-rocketing, organisers have launched payment plans for customers to make instalments towards the cost of a ticket. If the customer only pays in part or if there is a miscommunication along the way, do law students think about issues surrounding part-payment of debts?


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