A Court of Appeal decision confirming that two National Hunt jockeys were not guilty of negligence in a two-mile hurdle race at Hexham in September 1994, is a relief for insurers of dangerous sports.
The two jockeys, Mick Fitzgerald and Adrian Maguire, were insured by Markel syndicate 702 at Lloyd's. Active underwriter Andreas Loucaides said: "We welcome the decision, as it underlines that the duty of care owed by those engaged in inherently dangerous sports to their fellow participants will be assessed according to the standards of that sport.
"If the decision had gone the other way, it could have opened the floodgates for legal actions following any sporting injury sustained in circumstances where another competitor might be at least partially responsible."
The two riders had been following the racing line to a tight left bend following the penultimate fence, not realising that third-placed rider, Derek Byrne, was coming up on the inside.
As they took the bend, the inside gap closed, causing Byrne's horse to fall, bringing down the mount of Peter Caldwell, who sustained serious injuries as a result of the fall.
Fitzgerald and Maguire were found guilty of careless riding by the race stewards and were suspended for three days. Caldwell subsequently sued Fitzgerald and Maguire, seeking more than £1m in damages.They were cleared in the lower court on February 1, 2000.
The two jockeys were represented by City law firm Reynolds Porter Chamberlain. Partner Paul Matthews said: "This is a very important decision, not only for Mick and Adrian, but for all professional jockeys and their insurers.
"A finding of negligence could have set a dangerous precedent for further claims not only between jockeys, but between participants in many other sports which involve an element of danger.
"The judgment confirms that jockeys should not be held liable for injuries sustained in the ordinary course of horse racing."
The case is believed to be the first between fellow jockeys ever to reach the English courts.