High Court overturns decision to award €40,000 in damages to hillwalker

The High Court has overturned a decision to award a hillwalker €40,000 in damages for injuries sustained after a fall on the Wicklow Way.

The damages were claimed against the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) after the hillwalker fell on a boardwalk on the walk in 2013.

The Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, Heather Humphreys TD, and Minister of State for Regional Development, Michael Ring TD have welcomed the decision.

The Minister and their officials will now take time to consider the details of the ruling and its future implications for Ireland’s National Parks and their recreational remit.

It would be inappropriate to comment further until such deliberations have taken place, a joint statement from both Ministers said.

IFA Hill Committee Chairman Pat Dunne has noted today’s judgement, saying that the finding that an onus exists on the walker to have a duty of care is an important recognition from a landowner’s perspective.

“This should help to ease the concerns of farmers. Public liability insurance cover is provided to private landowners who permit waymarked walking trails to be developed across their land.

“The commitment in the Programme for Government to increase funding to €4m and bring in an additional 2,000 farmers must now be acted upon.

“While the judgement relates to property owned by the National Parks and Wildlife Service, it also has relevance for private land owners, mainly farmers, where hill walkers ramble off designated routes.”