The Lord Chancellor is sending a clear message out to all organisations including schools, youth organisations, communities, in fact all who contribute to our society, that the perceived threat of the “compensation culture” must not prevent leading and participating in 'initiative taking'.
Such activities may be paid or voluntary, but are where 'going the extra mile' is optional but makes a real difference. In some areas this may be showing initiative, in others, such as as extra-curricular activities, contributing to community events and helping a neigbour, it is the essence of a good society. It is suggested that any contribution that is intended to help, should not be prevented from from taking place because of a fear of litigation if all does not go right.
Lord Falconer of Thoroton said that the recently passed Compensation Bill will strive to authenticate the legitimacy of compensation claims and will endeavour to put in place measures to prevent unscrupulous “No Win, No Fee” firms from exploiting incidents which might occur during legitimate and useful activities.
He also told the Constitutional Affairs Committee of MP’s that the number of incidents of compensation claims occurring as a result of accidental injury is an incorrect perception; he also adds that the perception of such claims is preventing people from volunteering. Volunteering England at their October 2006 AGM in Birmingham stated that one in twenty would-be helpers is put off volunteering and the reason they give is “too many rules and regulations”. However, the reason that underlies this is that they are afraid of being sued.
The “Have a go” culture is estimated to cost the UK £10 billion each year. The new bill asks judges to consider the long term effects of judgements on wider society especially where good intention, goodwill and joint responsibility can be seen to exist.
It is hoped that the introduction of this bill will encourage people to lend their time and contribute to the holistic development of the next generation, so that in turn the giving back to society becomes more the norm. In addition, freedom to take positive risks and opportunities should again become the stuff of good managers, leaders and helpers.