Legal info

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Here at York Raceway every one of our meetings is authorised by our Governing Body the IOPD below is what that means to the average participants / spectator published by the IOPD in December 2009.

But just how many of us think about the Event itself and the Organisers?

Just what is it that you are entering / staging?

Do you want to hold / take part in an event with a group of people that are Audited, Inspected and Licensed and so take part in a Legal Event OR are you happy to hold / enter events that are unauthorised, not Officially recognised meaning you could be committing a criminal offence just by taking part??

What do you mean NEEDS TO BE LEGAL?

Why is that important to me? I've been told, "you can do what you want on private Land"

I'm using a purpose built Track or a Circuit!!

I'm performing in a Stadium!!

I'm only practicing or testing!!

Anyhow who cares!!

Well possibly it can be very important to you if you are unfortunate enough to have an accident The other people involved or their families probably care and will possibly want someone to blame and may think about suing (or their lawyers may). In fact any person aware of the accident may report it to the police or H.S.E. for investigation.

Besides the normal worry about your own well-being possible time off work, the damage to your vehicle and the costs to repair it, now there's all these other people involved with the accident.

Why are other peoples injury / damages my problem?

Do you realise an accident, even if it is not on the Highway, could and do become a "Scene of Crime"(remember Richard Hammond's Accident he was on a private Airfield) Police and H.S.E. investigations don't stop at the gates to private land and as a result you could be charged by the Police with: Dangerous, Careless or Inconsiderate Driving or Riding or being an Aider and Abetter. This may result in a fine and points on your licence. Possibly even causing death by dangerous driving if someone where to be killed as a result of the accident. A prison sentence could follow if negligence is proven.

There could be E.H.O. or H.S.E. charges to consider if you are an event Organiser.

AND / OR alternatively a private law suite could be brought against you, if a person is injured by the accident or suffers a loss.

Why is this?

Well it's all down to confusing terminology; the titles "The Road Traffic and Road Safety Act" are very misleading and lead to widespread misunderstandings. This is because both of the Acts of Parliament actually cover all vehicles being driven or ridden anywhere in public and not just on public roads.

So perhaps we need to clarify a few definitions (that have been proven by case law)

What is a Road?

In Road Traffic Act Offences, this has been established as any route which may be continuous (like a circuit) or any route, which may come to a termination (like a cul-de-sac or Dragstrip) whether on Private Land or not.

What is a Private Place?

This is where you may drive or ride what and how you like. BUT only if you are present on your own or with family and friends you know well, you have written permission to do so and it can be SHOWN that you did not deliberately use a vehicle to injure another person or persons.

What is a Private Land?

This is land that is privately owned. BUT you cannot drive or ride what and how you like if the public are present because this makes it also a PUBLIC PLACE. You must conform to large parts of the Road Traffic Act, particularly with respect to how you drive / ride a vehicle.

  What is a "Public Place" then?

A Public Place is any venue to which the public are admitted. It includes those areas in a venue to which the public are actually excluded, like the infield or fenced off racetracks.

But surely a Race Track must be a Private Place?

No! A case called Cawley V Frost establishes all areas must be deemed a Public Place including those areas to which the public are excluded like the racetrack.

What is Off Road?

What the Department for Transport calls "Off Road' is actually "Off Highway" so it includes Circuits, Drag Strips and even Stadiums not just muddy fields and woods.

So with just these 5 very simple definitions we can see that where we compete is unlikely to be deemed a private place as we and other people, i.e. the public, are present and that the event takes place on a road. Because of this therefore all Public Events are likely to come under the Road Traffic and Road Safety Acts and hence the possible charges of Antisocial, Inconsiderate, Dangerous and Careless riding/driving plus riding or driving without insurance.

SO How does Mainstream Motor Sport avoid these prosecutions?

In 1991 after much lobbing by Motor Sport Organisations in general the law was changed and in particular Section 13A - (1) of the R.T.A. This now states:

"A person shall not be guilty of an offence under section 1,2 and 3 (dangerous, careless and inconsiderate driving) of this Act by virtue of driving a mechanically propelled vehicle in a public place other than a road if he shows that he was driving in accordance with an authorisation for a motoring event given under regulations made by the Secretary of State (Statutory Instrument No: 1370)'

In effect a person shall not be guilty of the 6 most serious offences if it can be shown that he was driving or riding in accordance with, and within the curtilage of a Road Traffic Act (Off Road Event) Authorisation Permit issued by an Authorising Body under Road Traffic Act Regulations 1991. This lawful Authorisation and only this Authorisation makes acceptable the otherwise unacceptable and possible criminal behaviour and clarifies the "pre-incident' consenting arrangements made between all the individuals involved. i.e. the signing on contract recognising the risks of participating and the risk of being struck by other participants.

What is an Authorising Governing Body?

In 1992 a Group of 11 Organising Groups applied to the Secretary of State and under Statutory Instrument No 1370 were made Authorising or Governing Bodies and so are able to inspect, approve and sanction off -highway venues and issue Authorising Permits.

These Eleven Organisations or Authorising Governing Bodies are today still the only Official Organisations who by law can issue permits of Authorisation! And these are listed below:

1.The Royal Automobile Club (now the Motor Sports Association or MSA),

2.The Amateur Motor Cycle Association Ltd,

3.The Association of Land Rover Clubs Ltd,

4.The Auto Cycle Union Ltd,

5.The British Schoolboy Motorcycle Association,

6.The International Organisation of Professional Drivers Ltd,

7.The National Autograss Sport Association Ltd,

8. NORA 92 Ltd,

9. National Traction Engine Trust,

10.The Youth Motorcycle Sports Association (YMSA) Ltd

11. The Scottish Auto Cycle Union Ltd.

As with many things over time knowledge and understanding becomes diluted and so today you may find Organisations claiming that they can issue permits and some even issue Competition Licences.

BUT unless they are one of the above named Organisations THEY ARE NOT LEGALLY RECOGNISED and empowered to Authorise! So if you are unfortunate to have an accident you may find you are not exempt from prosecution and your competition licence may not carry any legal force or status.

  What use is an Authorising Governing Body to me?

1. Authorising Governing Bodies can help participants and Event Organisers by providing a recognised defence for:

  • Driving or riding a vehicle that is not road legal on a road or in a Public Place.
  • Breaking the speed limit on a road or in a Public Place.
  • Racing or Practicing for such an event which otherwise is deemed unlawful.
  • Riding or Driving furiously, dangerously, inconsiderately and annoyingly.
  • Loosing control of your vehicle


The venue has a lawful Off Road Event permit and you have conformed to the rules regulations of that Authorising Governing Body, which specifically permits what would otherwise be unlawful.

2. Authorising Governing Bodies liaise with and on occasions even challenge Enforcement Agencies, Local Authorities and Government on behalf of participants and organisers , to ensure rulings do not adversely affect the future of Auto Sport in the U.K. They can even take a case to the High Court if need be.

3. Authorising Governing Bodies provide guidance manuals, rules and regulations to help Organisations, riders and drivers avoid taking unnecessary risks and there by placing other people at unnecessary risk.

4. Authorising Governing Bodies also can provide Stewards, Inspectors and Expert Witness if asked to do so.

5. Some Authorising Governing Bodies may be able to provide access to preferential, cost effective Insurance as Insurers recognise the benefits of Inspected and Audited lawful Auto Leisure Sport Activities.

In summary by being part of an Authorised Governing Body system you are taking part in an Authorised, Regulated and Audited event that licences and endorses risk taking for stimulation whilst using a mechanically propelled vehicle.

This in turn separates the way in which you may be judged, by society or in a Court of Law from the unregulated, and potentially prosecutable criminal activities associated with driving or riding mechanically propelled vehicles furiously and / or unconventionally in a public place.

So what can you do to try and protect yourself?

  • At an event ask to see the Permit of Authorisation, if it is not already on display.
  • Check to see who has issued it and is it one of the eleven Governing Bodies.
  • Make sure you are happy and comfortable with the site and the conditions you are asked to ride /drive or compete in.

What about the question of having to have a recognised competition licence to compete in the event?

  • The purpose of an Authorised Competition Licence is to accredit a driver with specific skills and experience in vehicle handling under extreme racing conditions and at speeds way beyond the national Speed Limit permitted elsewhere in the UK.

  • Being an Authorised Competition Licence Holder grants the holder status as a member of an elite disciplined "class of society" (a legal term). It may permit the holder to overtake on the inside, ride or drive furiously and "show off' that persons skills and ability at controlling a mechanically propelled vehicle "on the edge' of loosing control (All these actions are not permitted by the D.V.L.A. licence or the R.T.A. without authorisation.)

  • It acts as a defence in claims or charges (both legal and civil) of negligence and reckless irresponsibility should the driver be involved in a tragic accident and formalises that all participants accept the risks of competing.

  • It acts as a recognised alternative system of control of standards for Off Highway events for those who do not or cannot hold a DVLA issued licence and provides a system of policing standards of behaviour for all competitors.

For more information log onto

Pennine Raceway Ltd. The Motor Sports Centre, Sandbed, Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire, HX7 6PT Company reg. 01185172 England & Wales

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