Campaign for Adventure eagerly awaits the Young Report – Ian Lewis
Excessive regulation, litigiousness and fear of being sued are constraints on Big Society aspirations. These blocks to enterprise and aspiration, not to mention goodwill, prevent private citizens, educators, health-workers, managers, and all private companies and public services, from fulfilling their potential for our society.
In helping to create the ‘Good Samaritan’ Act, this campaign hopes Lord Young’s report will protect from litigation those who intend to do good – whether emergency services, citizens, teachers, sports coaches or whomever. It will also support Emergency Services in taking the right actions, including breaching health and safety rules in order to help others or stop crime.
The mission to strike a twin blow against overbearing health and safety laws and Britain's mushrooming "compensation culture" has been at the top of David Cameron's personal agenda for several months.
As leader of the opposition, in a speech last December, he hit out at a system which saw trainee hairdressers not allowed to use scissors in a classroom.
In another case, Mr Cameron said, staff at a railway station had not helped a young mother carry her baby son's buggy because they were not insured.
In a tragic 2007 case cited by Mr Cameron, Jordon Lyon, aged 10, drowned in a pond having rescued his young sister, as police community support officers stood by because they had not undertaken their "water rescue" health and safety training.
Lord Young's as-yet unpublished report seeks to exempt the emergency services from lawsuits or prosecution for breaching H&S rules when they are taking necessary action and risking their own safety to help others or stop crime.
It also says claims should no longer be considered by courts where individuals are sued for causing a personal injury when they are trying to do the right thing – so-called "Good Samaritan" situations – or trying to stop someone else doing an injury to themselves.
A crackdown is likely, moreover, on the way "no win, no fee" personal injury law firms are allowed to advertise their services, both in what they say and the amount of advertising they are allowed to engage in.
Lord Young is understood to call for the immediate implementation of Lord Justice Jackson's Review of Civil Litigation Costs – the main intention of which is to put people off from taking out speculative law suits.
This would see success fees charged by lawyers in "no win, no fee" agreements no longer recoverable from defendants as well as allowing judges discretion to cap the costs individual claimants can recover from defendants in personal injury cases.
This would be good news for the NHS and other public sector organisations – as well as private companies.
Schools, too, are likely to see a mini-revolution. Lord Young wants to replace the huge number of risk assessment forms that teachers have to fill in before going on trips with a simple consent form for parents to sign.
Schools should no longer be liable for accidents on such trips, nor for injuries suffered by children playing organised games, unless there has been "reckless disregard" for safety, the report says.
The rules should also be changed, Lord Young recommends, for youth sports teams run by other organisations.
Local councils – and their officials – who ban community events such as street parties or firework displays are also in Lord Young's firing line.
The peer also says ministers should consider requiring food and drinks outlets to display their hygiene ratings on their premises, something that is currently done only on a voluntary basis.
There should only be one type of inspection, he argues, for food and drink outlets – not separate assessments for H&S, fire, hygiene and other issues.
Baroness Thatcher said of Lord Young: "Other people brought me problems. David brought me solutions." Mr Cameron is hoping the peer will perform a similar service for him."