Ever Seen These Signs & Wondered? - Part 2
A second instalment in the series “Ever Seen These Signs and Wondered” - this article looks at signs you would encounter in Jamaica and what they truly mean.
Waivers, Releases and Indemnities
We have all seen the “At your own risk” signs. Chances are we have all signed a waiver, a release or an indemnity at some point or another without sparing a thought when we visit an amusement park or a tourist attraction. These waivers purport to limit your right to sue the service provider or limit the damages you can claim if you are injured or die. Some of these activities, such as bungee jumping and jet-skiing are inherently dangerous, and others, such as horseback riding and swimming with dolphins involve interacting with animals who can sometimes behave in an unpredictable manner.
The Consumer Protection Act states that such notices, waivers and releases that exclude liability for the service provider’s negligence for personal injury may not be worth the paper it was written on. The Act states that a person shall not by reference to any term of a contract or notice given to persons, exclude or restrict his liability for death or personal injury resulting from negligence. In other words, where it can be shown that any injury or resulting death was because of the service provider’s negligence, the waiver or release is unlikely to protect them from a potential lawsuit. There are however ways in which the service provider can draft a waiver or release that would protect the business so it is still very important that you read the signs before you sign.
Seats For Employees Only
A sign located in an office or a shop with the writing “Seats are for Employees Only” is required by law but rarely seen. The Shops and Offices Act requires the occupier of a shop or office to provide, behind the counter or in any other suitable position in the shop or office for the use of employees, at least two seats in proportion to every three persons employed. The business is also required to exhibit in a conspicuous place in the office or shop a notice stating that such seats are provided exclusively for employees in accordance with the requirements of the regulations.
An office is defined under the law to mean an establishment maintained for the purposes of any profession or trade or business. A shop is also defined as any premises in which any person conducts any business in which dry goods, hardware, jewelry, books or stationery are sold whether by retail or wholesale and includes any place used for storage of, receipts of orders for dispatch or delivery of any goods dealt with in such business. It is fair to say that almost every kind of business in Jamaica can be defined as either an office or a shop for the purposes of this law.
Anyone found guilty of not conspicuously exhibiting this sign is liable to a fine not exceeding $50 or a term of imprisonment of up to 3 months in default of payment. Many business owners may find themselves in the JCF’s hot seat for being in breach of this law though the fifty dollar fine may make the seat more lukewarm than hot.
At first glance there may not be much to wonder about a “Silence Zone” sign but you would be surprised at how powerful the law in relation to a silence zone is. Under the Road Traffic Act, no horn or warning device shall be sounded during prescribed hours or at the prescribed location. Downtown Kingston (from North Street to Spanish Town Road to Darling Street to Barry Street to Pechon Street to the Digicel building on Ocean Boulevard all the way out to South Camp Road back up to North Street) is a designated silence zone and has been from 1973. Areas can be designated as silence zones by the Island Traffic Authority by notice published in the gazette. A person can be fined up to $4,000 if found to be in breach of this law. Somebody should give the motor vehicle operators in and around our Supreme Court on King Street the memo.
Life is one big road with a lot of signs but not all signs are created equal. You should always seek to understand the legal impact of signs we encounter on this road called life.
Jahmar Clarke is an Associate at Myers, Fletcher & Gordon and is a member of the firm's Litigation Department. Jahmar may be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org or www.myersfletcher.com. This article is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.