Stop Loss 16 - Organising Special Events

Ports are frequently used for staging events unconnected with normal operations. These range from maritime exhibitions and trade shows to pop concerts and opera performances to marathons and other sporting occasions. Sometimes these events will be held in the working port area, but others may be held elsewhere but still on port-owned land, for instance, old disused wharves and quays in towncentre locations.

Whatever the event, everyone involved wants it to be a success and that the public will enjoy it in safety and comfort. To help you in your arrangements, this bulletin and its associated check-list look at the special risks for you as a port authority or operator that could arise.

  • “Free entry” does not mean “no liability”
  • Talk to your insurer at the earliest opportunity
  • Good planning is essential
  • Know what the organisers are planning
  • Organisers must have their own adequate liability
  • insurance and you should be named on their policy as a joint assured
  • Agree in writing who is responsible for what
  • Appoint a manager to oversee all the arrangements
  • Get professional advice from public authorities
  • Check that the event does not compromise your ISPS accreditation


If the public is allowed on to your land you may have a liability for any death or injury suffered by anyone as a result of your negligence. This principle applies even if no charge is made to the public for entry. Even if tickets are issued, national law will often not allow you to avoid liability for death or injury by the use of restrictive contractual conditions.


Negligence is a wide-ranging concept. Should an accident happen, the claimant will argue – with all the benefit of hindsight – that you ought to have foreseen the particular problem that caused it. Accidents can only be avoided with good advance planning and attention to the smallest detail.

Agreements with the Promoters

As will all other operational agreements, you must have a clear understanding with the promoter right at the beginning of discussions about what he wants to do, what he is to provide, what he requires from you and who will be responsible for what. Normally you should insist that the promoter takes full responsibility for all the activities on the area he is using, although you must retain the right to intervene if you feel your own activities will be affected, or if you feel the promoter is not taking necessary steps to avoid loss or injury.


Your insurance cover does not automatically include your liability arising out of the staging of public events. Policy extensions can be agreed – usually for an extra premium – but you must discuss your requirements with your insurers as soon as possible. Your broker will advise and help you. Your insurers will normally expect that the promoter or organiser of the event has his own public liability insurance of at least USD 1 million (or equivalent in your currency). This is a minimum amount, and larger limits may be required depending on the size of the event. Other contractors, such as companies involved in erecting temporary structures, (stages, grandstands etc) must also have their own liability cover with similar limits.

The contract with the promoter must set out the minimum liability insurance that he must have and you must get independent confirmation that the policy is in place before allowing any work to take place on the site.


Public safety is of the greatest importance. You should appoint a manager with experience of dealing with such events to oversee all the arrangements and with authority to get things done. You should arrange your own risk assessment, in conjunction with officers responsible for public safety from the local authority, police force or fire service as well as with the promoters, to identify potential hazards. All hazards must be removed or made safe, for instance by erecting temporary barriers. If the promoter needs a licence from a local authority to hold an event on your land he must obtain it and give you a copy. Both you and the promoter must comply absolutely with all the conditions on the permit.

Having a licence to hold an event does not absolve you from making your own safety assessment and implementing your own precautions. While it is the promoter’s responsibility to provide adequate numbers of trained marshals, you will need to liaise with them to ensure that they have a clear understanding of the physical boundaries of the site and any particular unavoidable hazards (such as unfenced quaysides and deep water). If you have your own port police force, they should be involved in all discussions and in checking overall security. .


Allowing the general public into areas of the port normally used for operations may compromise your ISPS accreditation. There must be proper segregation to ensure that the public cannot enter secure areas. You should discuss your plans with your ISPS supervisory authority. You may also need to discuss the arrangements with your local customs officials to ensure that they are happy with the security arrangements.

You must agree with the promoters or organisers of the event who will be responsible for any screening of people entering the venue, including artistes, back-stage personnel and outside contractors. Normally this will be the promoter’s responsibility but you must make sure that checks are sufficient to ensure that the security of your facility is maintained. Promoters of big public events should have considerable experience of organising them. Ideally you should agree the area they are going to use, make sure it is safe and secure, remove as many hazards as physically possible, and then let them get on with it. It is, however, your land that they are using and you should therefore make sure that your interests are protected.

Enjoy the show!

Through Transport Mutual Insurance Association Limited and TT Club Mutual Insurance Limited, trading as the TT Club. TT Club Mutual Insurance Limited, registered in the UK (Company number: 02657093) is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated in the UK by the Financial Conduct Authority and Prudential Regulation Authority. In Hong Kong, TT Club Mutual Insurance Limited is authorised and regulated by the Hong Kong Insurance Authority, in Singapore by the Monetary Authority of Singapore and in Australia by the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority. In the United States, TT Club Mutual Insurance Limited is approved as a surplus lines insurer in all states and is accessible through properly licensed surplus lines brokers. The registered offices are: 90 Fenchurch Street, London, EC3M 4ST.

Through Transport Mutual Insurance Association Limited, registered in Bermuda (Company number: 1750) is authorised and regulated in Bermuda by the Bermuda Monetary Authority. 

The UK VAT Identification number for Through Transport Mutual Insurance Association Limited is: GB 564 5244 35 and for TT Club Mutual Insurance Limited is: GB 564 3375 30. The Italian VAT Identification number for TT Club Mutual Ltd is: 03627210101.

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