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Face Paint – Legal & Insurance issues

Following on from the broadcast email letter to members ‘Calling time on full face black makeup’, on 3rd July 2020, here are some of the frequently asked questions from members.

See all our Face Paint pages:

If we carry on using full face black makeup, can we be taken to court and does it affect our Insurance?

Some legal bits:

If you carry on using full face black makeup, then there is a potential risk of having a claim made against your team – or an individual within your team – under the Equality Act 2010, see:

The Equality Act says it’s harassment where the behaviour is meant to, or has the effect of, either: (a) violating your dignity, or (b) creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment. This means it’s harassment even if the person harassing you didn’t mean to offend or intimidate you, as long as the harassment has one of the above effects.

Hobos Morris
Hobos Morris

It is preferable that a claim be avoided rather than successfully defended.  The Morris Federation would not wish member teams to be associated with the negative image and publicity that would inevitably follow, or to go through the inconvenience of facing a court case with the attendant risk of possibly large – and perhaps uninsurable – monetary damages.

It is increasingly possible that a team using full face black makeup will face a charge of racial harassment in the near future, and that is not something that The Morris Federation can help you with.  Also, the adverse publicity associated with a charge for racial harassment will reflect badly on the extended morris community, regardless of the outcome.

The Morris Federation cannot condone actions which may be, or potentially be, illegal.


This is a summary from the JMO’s Insurance Officer, Michael Stimpson: “Any Insurer would … expect any Insured body or person to act at all times in a prudent manner and thus, if it was felt that a Side had disregarded advice regarding the use of a full black or Skin tone face make up and this, in turn, resulted in a situation where a third party claim was made against the Side, Insurers COULD avoid a claim.  This would be the case under any Public Liability Insurance Policy.  So, my thought would be that a Side who uses Black or Skin tone full face make up under present conditions could find themselves in a position of having a claim declined or that the future of the policy itself could be put into jeopardy.”

The JMO Public Liability Insurance Policy does not cover legal support to defend a claim under the Equality Act, just property damage or personal injury to third parties.


If you have any questions, or anything at all you wish to discuss with us on this topic, please email us at

Last updated: October 2020

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