find the latest legal job
Corporate Counsel and Company Secretary
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: Newcastle, Maitland & Hunter NSW
· Highly-respected, innovative and entrepreneurial Not-for-Profit · Competency based Board
View details
Chief Counsel and Company Secretary
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: Newcastle, Maitland & Hunter NSW
· Dynamic, high growth organisation · ASX listed market leader
View details
In-house Projects Lawyer | Renewables / Solar | 2-5 Years PQE
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: All Australia
· Help design the future · NASDAQ Listed
View details
Insurance Lawyer (3-5 PAE)
Category: Insurance and Superannuation Law | Location: Brisbane CBD & Inner Suburbs Brisbane QLD
· Dynamic organisation ·
View details
Legal Counsel
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: North Sydney NSW 2060
· 18 month fixed term contract · 3-5 years PQE with TMT exposure
View details
Pokémon Go craze ignites lawyers’ concern

Pokémon Go craze ignites lawyers’ concern

Aussie lawyers are abuzz with concern for the potential legal fallout Pokémon Go may cause for avid app users and the public at large.

The smash-hit smart phone app, combining capture of nostalgic 90s cartoon characters with augmented reality, has received an overwhelming response worldwide with as many as 9.5 million users daily. In Australia, one of the first markets in which the Pokémon Go app was released, the game topped app download chart records within a matter of days.

However, the viral trend has a number of lawyers concerned about possible implications for mobile use while driving, public liability claims and incidence of trespass. Lawyers say enthusiastic ‘trainers’ may not understand the extent to which their app activities could get them in legal trouble.

A recent car accident in the US involving a Pokémon-distracted driver was highlighted by injury compensation lawyer Mark O’Connor, who warned obsessed players that trainer duties would not make them “immune to legal actions”. Mr O’Connor, who is the director of law firm Bennett & Philp Lawyers, said players must be made aware that the game exposes them to a number of potential hazards.

“A common complaint from people who are involved in accidents is that the driver who hit them was, or was likely, using their mobile phone – I'm waiting for a new generation of cases where the offending driver was using Pokémon Go,” Mr O’Connor said.  

He noted the hefty compensation claims that may be faced by those who injure others in road accidents caused by player distraction.

“Don’t drive or cycle and Pokémon-hunt at the same time. If you cause an accident that results in injury to others or damage because you were distracted, you could find yourself at the sharp end of a damages claim.

“Explaining that you were pursuing Pikachu, or Charmander, Squirtle or Bulbasaur won’t cut it at a compo hearing,” Mr O’Connor said.

Lawyer Emma Aldersea from Slater and Gordon agrees, saying motorists caught playing the game when driving could also face criminal charges with terms of imprisonment.

“Using your phone while driving is against the law, so Pokémon activity behind the wheel is obviously illegal, but you could be facing more than just a fine or loss of demerit points,” Ms Aldersea said.

“If you make driving errors because you were engrossed in the game, you could face charges such as careless or dangerous driving, which are offences that carry prison sentences."

The Pokémon Go app engages users’ camera phones and Google Maps to initiate a hunt for Pokémon creatures in real-world locations. ‘Trainers’ gain experience through the game by capturing and battling Pokémon in addition to collecting various items, which enables them to move on to the next level. The game is as simple as locating a cartoon creature and swiping a ball on your smartphone screen to capture it.

As the game has increased in popularity, remarkable scenes have emerged of crowds searching for highly prized Pokémon in unlikely public places. Last week the Western Australian Premier Colin Barnett made a call for people to take their ‘catch ’em all’ quests away from more solemn locations such as war memorial sites. The NSW government has also issued a request to the game’s developers for the Sydney ANZAC War Memorial to be removed from the app’s list of ‘Pokéstops’.

Beyond inappropriate public spaces, the hunt for the Pokémon creatures could stray into illegal territory when users move their searches onto private premises. Ms Aldersea suggested Pokémon Go players were at risk of breaking trespass laws, which can also include terms of imprisonment.

“The biggest legal risk for Pokémon Go trainers is the temptation of trespass, especially when Pokéstops are located on private property, such as schools or people’s yards.

“The penalties for trespass vary from state to state, but fines can run into the thousands and imprisonment terms can be up to one year,” Ms Aldersea said.

“Remember: there will always be another Zubat.”

Like this story? Read more:

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

The legal budget breakdown 2017

Pokémon Go craze ignites lawyers’ concern
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
LCA president Fiona McLeod SC
Aug 17 2017
Where social fault lines meet the justice gap in Aus
After just returning from a tour of the Northern Territory, LCA president Fiona McLeod SC speaks wit...
Marriage equality flag
Aug 17 2017
ALHR backs High Court challenge to marriage equality postal vote
Australian Lawyers for Human Rights (ALHR) has voiced its support for a constitutional challenge to ...
Give advice
Aug 17 2017
A-G issues advice on judiciary’s public presence
Commonwealth Attorney-General George Brandis QC has offered his advice on the public presence of jud...
APPOINTMENTS
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
opinion
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
Help
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...