Sunday, September 19, 2010

The End of the Compensation Culture?

It's reported this morning that the so-called 'compensation culture' is to be swept away by new reforms, proposed by Lord Young. Very importantly, people performing first aid or other "good samaritan" acts should no longer be able to be sued in personal injury cases, according to the peer.

Lord Young will also recommend that emergency service workers, including police and ambulance staff, should be exempt from lawsuits for breaching health and safety rules where they are risking their own safety to assist others or to stop crime.

In the last five years, the NHS alone has spent £8billion on compensation.

Teachers are set to be spared the burden of filling in reams of paperwork, including "risk assessments" before they can take pupils on trips while injuries suffered by pupils either on trips or playing games should no longer be able to spark lawsuits - unless there is clear evidence of "reckless disregard".

Firework displays, street parties and concerts should no longer be able to be banned unilaterally by councils. Organisers are likely to get the right to challenge any decision - with an independent ombudsman ruling on contentious cases.

Lawyers who offer "no win, no fee agreements" face a crackdown - including a ban on them recovering costly "success fees" from defendants while judges are likely to be given discretion to cap costs that claimants can recover in personal injury cases.

While, as a councillor, I worry about the control of fireworks parties from a purely anti-social perspective, as I find that alcohol and explosives rarely mix well unless sensible precautions are observed. I welcome a common sense approach to the many other problems that our obsessive health and safety culture has delivered and in particular the introduction of a 'Good Samaritan' rule which exists in the that most litigious of all countries, the United States and not here. In recent years, we've seen the aberration of people dying needlessly  because the emergency services stood-by because they weren't allowed to use their personal judgement to save life when circumstances demanded a personal judgement call.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

If we get rid of 'elf & safety' along with compensation culture, whatever will Richard Littlejohn have left to write about.

Seriously though it is about time and they should take all the 'isms' away aswell. I can never work out why it is more of an offence to punch a black or gay man in the eye than it is a heterosexual white one.

Let us just get to treat each other as fellow citizens end of story.

Michael Child said...

Simon thanks for removing the word verification, it does make it easier to comment, incidentally the new blogger spam controls have spammed some legitimate comments on my blog, so I recommend that you keep an eye on that one.

Heath and safety here in Thanet has been very influential and sometimes applied very heavy-handedly.

I suppose that the first and most damaging regulations were the guesthouse fire regulations applied at the point when cheap package holidays had most of the operators in a position where they couldn’t afford to implement them.

I suppose that the most damaging health and safety justified changes implemented during the Labour government, here in Ramsgate town centre, has been the mass removal of on street parking.

Do you think in this new environment there is any chance of the council implementing some scheme to reinstate it?

Some of it is just potty and as the council evidently doesn’t have the resources to keep up the yellow line repainting it goes through long periods where the lines have worn away, so people park on it anyway.

DrM. said...

Michael, although the Joint Transportation board has a part to play, streets and lines come under KCC and remains a mystery to me!

Michael Child said...

With the way Ramsgate is represented within the local councils i.e. being predominantly Labour and within Conservative controlled councils, there has to be some way for the commercial interests of Ramsgate businesses to be represented within those councils doesn’t there Simon?

After all if we are coming out of elf and safety gone mad it isn’t much to ask for somewhere my customers can park.

I am pretty sure that this is a Thanet wide problem, which needs a Thanet wide solution, it may even be that at county level other areas with more clout, benefit from it being harder to park in Thanet.

I would like the district council to at least explore the possibility of approaching the county council to resolve the issue for the whole of the district.

Perhaps asking them to roll back the double yellows to the time when Labour took office wouldn’t be too much to ask and the county would benefit from not having to find the money to paint the yellow lines.

I should also point out that since Westwood Cross there is less traffic in the town centres now than there was when Labour took up office, with the possible exception of Broadstairs, what has happened there with traffic calming seems a blessing beyond all understanding.