Injured employees face tougher battle following ‘Compensation Culture’ reforms

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JMW Solicitors respond to new reforms proposed by the Government which could lead to injured employees facing a much tougher battle when attempting to claim compensation for personal injuries.

The government has admitted that proposed reforms, aimed at tackling the UK’s ‘compensation culture’, will lead to injured employees facing a much tougher battle when attempting to claim compensation for personal injuries.

According to The Guardian (link below) the reforms, which come as part of the proposed Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill, will relax the ‘strict liability’ rules currently imposed on UK firms. This means that responsibility for proving negligence and breaches of health and safety will rest with the employee and not the employer.

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), which authored a report on the potential impact of the reforms, revealed that the number of claims brought against companies will be reduced if the reforms are implemented, however the frequency of protracted courtroom battles may also increase.

Speaking to the Guardian, Conservative minister Matthew Hancock claimed the proposals “[fulfil] our commitment in the budget to introduce measures to reduce the burden of health and safety. It provides important reassurance to employers that they will be liable to pay compensation only when it can be proved that they have been negligent."

However, personal injury lawyers have condemned the reforms, which shift the balance of power away from the injured employee.

Chris Sutton, partner and joint head of personal injury at Manchester law firm JMW Solicitors, said: “These changes seem regressive to us. The government is placing the burden of proof on the employee, making it harder for them to claim financial compensation that, in many cases, is crucial to helping them maintain their quality of life during a period spent out of work. It’s turning the clock back and will place the employee in a very difficult position.”

During the Bill’s second reading in the House of Lords on Wednesday [14 November] crossbench peer Lord Marland asked: “Do the Government really think that by proposing this change they are sending the right message to employers about the importance of health and safety? There has been no public consultation on this proposal and what is being proposed goes further than the recommendations made in this area by Professor Lofstedt, in his recent report.”

Speaking to the Guardian, a TUC spokesperson also spoke out in opposition to the changes: "We are totally opposed to this change. It's a disgrace. It was brought in without any consultation whatsoever. It will make it impossible for some injured workers to claim compensation in future."

After discussion in the House of Lords earlier this week, the Bill is due to reach committee stage on 3rd December, where each clause and its proposed amends will be discussed and voted on.

JMW Solicitors LLP is one of Manchester’s leading law firms and offers a broad range of legal services to both commercial and private clients. Its expertise covers everything from personal injury to business crime. For more information visit:

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