WHY IT IS VITALLY IMPORTANT FOR MUMMERS’ TEAMS TO BE INSURED:
A CAUTIONARY TALE
Many years ago, Coventry Mummers were booked to do a show in a College Students’ Union bar. We were crowded onto a miniscule stage in one corner and to perform his ‘vaunt’ our Turkish Knight stepped onto one of the many low tables in the room. Whilst brandishing his large metal scimitar he caught one of the students a glancing blow on the head, which needed a couple of stitches. We apologised and bought the man a drink and thought no more about it UNTIL quite a while later I, as Bagman, got a letter from his solicitor claiming that the blow had caused him to fail his exams, and hinting at heavy damages.
Fortunately we were members of the Morris Ring which rules that all Members and Associates must be part of their Public Liability Insurance scheme, so I just bundled the papers up and sent them to the Ring. We heard nothing further about it, but I learned much later that the lad had been paid out.
You might think that nothing could happen to you, but consider the chain of accidents that could arise from the flying tip of a broken wooden sword.
It is worth looking at what could have happened had we not been insured. In law, the whole team would have been held “jointly and severally liable”. This means that in recovering the damages they do not take an equal amount from each member of the team but can pick on one person to pay it all, and wipe him out (leaving him just one chair, one table, one bed and the tools of his trade) If that falls short they can pick another – and so on.
Relying on all the other team members to help out could put quite a strain on team loyalty. Anyone running a team has an obligation to see that its members are protected.
Another point is that most councils etca will only employ you if you carry Public Liability Insurance of several million pounds.
There are probably many providers of insurance including societies like the EFDSS, but my preference is that run by the Joint Morris Organisation, made up of the Morris Ring, the Morris Federation and the Open Morris, who make it a condition of membership. I like it because the insurers have plenty of experience and you would not have to explain what a Mummers’ play was. Probably get a better rate, too.