Black Friday Body Count: Your Rights In A Riot

Welcome to what will hopefully be a light year of Black Friday carnage.

If you’re staying out of the malls today and either observing the madness from afar like me or ignoring it altogether, good for you. But if you’re planning to take your chances out there, first of all I hope you make it home in a manner other than being shipped there in a box, but also here are a few things you should know if you run into trouble. It’s written from a UK perspective, but my high school law classes and hours of court show watching have me pretty confident that in most “civilized” countries, the same rules would apply.

1.
Just because you have picked up an item from the shelf does not give you the right to buy it. If a fellow shopper rips that cheap DVD player from your hands before you can pay for it, there’s nothing you can do about it.
2.
If you damage an item, the store can compel you to pay for it. This is because you have breached your duty of care. If you flee from the store without paying, the store is within its rights to bring a legal action against you for payment.
3.
If you get into a fight with other shoppers and are injured, any claim you make for damages will usually be against your fellow shoppers. You have no claim against the store itself. The store has a duty of care to ensure that its premises are safe and managed properly; it does not have a duty to prevent shoppers fighting.

Remember, when they say there’s nothing you can do about someone grabbing something from you, that absolutely includes decking the son of a bitch old lady and taking it back. I feel like that needs repeating. I also feel like a lot of people aren’t going to get that message, so I’ll be back soon to tell you all about them.

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