The new Government has demonstrated a desire to shake up the UK compensation culture. This is well overdue some might say and is not surprising given the current legal climate. Personal injury litigation is on the increase and many Claimants are seeking out compensatory damages through litigation for trivial injuries where legal costs often exceed any award of damages or settlement.
Last month the Prime Minister appointed Lord Young of Graffham to review the effects of health, safety and compensation culture. Lord Young is a former Trade and Industry Secretary and held a series of Cabinet Posts in the 1980s. He is to consider the rise in the compensation culture over the last decade and investigate concerns over the application and perception of health and safety legislation.
The Prime Minister’s focus is to allow a sensible new approach where people are protected without overwhelming businesses, community organisations and public services with the burden of health and safety regulation. In particular, he would like reforms to the Health and Safety at Work Act.
Lord Young has confirmed that the regulation of office working environments will be reviewed and that he will take a proportionate and common sense approach to implement a system that is less bureaucratic.
The report is also likely to comment on the changes proposed by Lord Justice Jackson in the much debated report on costs in civil proceedings which focuses on reducing the costs of litigation.
No doubt there will be some resistance from unions to any proposed changes that reduce safety levels who will argue that the law is in place to protect members of the workplace.
With around 13,500 accidental deaths a year in the UK it is important that Lord Young focuses on the need for protecting individuals whilst adapting the regulations where most required.
Some might argue that the compensation culture has not grown as a result of health and safety legislation, but as a result of growth in “no win no fee” claims services.
The report is due by the end of the summer months and Lord Young will work with various Government departments to implement his proposals.