The AFL has long been concerned with the impact of concussion upon players. Photo: Sebastian Costanzo
Former AFL players would have virtually no chance of success with a class action against the league for the long term effects of concussions sustained in the game, according to Western Bulldogs president and leading class action lawyer Peter Gordon.
AFL players like other sportsmen voluntarily accept a level of clear risk in choosing to participate in the sport and so an action for damages for injuries sustained in that sport would be unlikely to succeed, Gordon says.
Peter Gordon is a founding partner of the Slater and Gordon law firm, and has returned to the Western Bulldogs for another term as president this year.
"I think it would have next to no chance of success as a class action," Gordon says.
"Australian Rules football like other sports accepts there is an assumption by participants of the risks involved and it's a voluntary assumption of risk particularly when it is a clear and obvious risk.
"If one were to bring a generic action that helmets should have been worn ... it would in my view be bound to fail."
Gordon says that while a class action against the league for the after-effects of concussions would not succeed, individuals could have cases.
Speaking hypothetically, he said that sort of case might involve an individual coach for instance instructing a player to do something such as return to the field in the knowledge the player was still incapacitated.
"There is no class action in it at all and that would not be a point of real contention to any class action lawyer."
The issue arose on Sunday after Greg Williams spoke out about the damaging long-term effects of concussions he had suffered in the game and how it had effected his memory and moods.
Other former players subsequently also spoke out about the damage they had suffered from the game and warned current players and clubs about the dangers, saying more should be done to protect players from multiple concussions.