Government set to cut back on excessive liability claims

2012 may go down as the year in which the government sets out to cut back on what it sees as excessive health and safety legislation which they see as being exploited by aggressive legal firms seeking to make claims under PI insurance cover.

David Cameron has been reported as having said that he thought that Britain’s businesses needed every help they could get and one of the ways in which this could be done would be to scale back the Health and Safety legislation.

He stated that he wanted 2012 to “go down in history” not just because of it being an Olympic year for Britain or Diamond Jubilee year but a year in which “pointless time-wasting” was weeded out of British life.

The 2010 Young report and the 2011 Lofstedt report provided the ammunition for Cameron’s attack on what he sees as the “compensation culture”.

Cameron feels that the number of rules concerning health and safety regulation have created a culture of fear amongst business directors and this is being exploited by lawyers out to pursue liability insurance claims.

The heads of major insurance companies will be invited to Downing Street in February for a summit to outline what the government expects of them in terms of demands for compliance by business. The government will be seeking reassurance from insurance firms that they their demands will not overstep what is required by the law in terms of compliance.

Mr Cameron’s remarks have been roundly criticised by officials who are in charge of Occupational Health and Safety. Richard Jones, a leading figure at the Institution of Occupational Health and Safety said that Mr Cameron’s remarks were “appalling”.

Mr Jones says that the law in itself is not the problem. Businesses and employers have developed an over exaggerated fear of being sued because of the way in which liability claims have been pursued in such an aggressive manner.

Lawyers fees under existing legislation have already been capped where the liability claim is under ₤10,000 but the government is considering extending the cap threshold to all claims under ₤25,000.

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