British Columbia

Injured B.C. children can sue despite waivers: court

A legal case involving injuries allegedly suffered at a martial arts centre has led to a B.C. Supreme Court decision that says parents don't have the right to sign away their children's ability to sue.

A legal case involving injuries allegedly suffered at a martial arts centre has led to a B.C. Supreme Court decision that says parents don't have the right to sign away their children's ability to sue.

The case involves Victor Wong, who was 12 years old when his mother signed him up for the Korean martial art Hapkido, at Lok's Martial Arts Centre in Richmond, B.C.

Wong's mother signed a waiver presented by the school, intended to protect the school from liability should anything happen to her son.

When Wong was 16, he has claimed, another student at the martial arts school violently threw him to the ground.

Wong's lawyer, Bonnie Lepin, said that four years later, Wong, now 20, is still suffering from the effects of that match

"He's had two surgeries, and he's partially disabled for the rest of his life," said Lepin.

Wong is suing the owner of the school, Michael Lok, and the man he was sparring with, for negligence. Wong is arguing that Lok, as the instructor, should have provided better supervision

But the instructor argued the suit should be dismissed on the grounds that the waiver that the mother signed shielded him from responsibility.

In a judgment this week, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Peter Willcock disagreed, and is allowing the case to go ahead.

Willock ruled that under the Infants Act of B.C., a parent cannot sign away a child's right to sue for negligence.

"There a lot of parents who sign waivers for any number of places where their children have lessons, and those places will think they're protected. But those waivers are useless," said Lepin

The case goes to court in November.

now