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PEERS DEFEAT GOVERNMENT ‘STRICT LIABILITY’ CHANGES

Plans to scrap civil action for regulatory breach hits the buffers

The House of Lords has voted (6 Mar) to keep potential civil action against employers where breaches of H&S regulations cause damage. This is currently provided for under the HSW Act 974 Section 47.

The government bill arose from the recommendations made in the Lofstedt report which requested a ‘review’ of the HSW Act provision rather than immediate abolition.

A full and interesting video account of the debate and the issues involved has been published by the BBC.

The Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill included a clause to remove personal injury claims unless negligence can be proved and was debated for a third day at report stage on 6 March 2013.

Peers backed an amendment designed to preserve the current rules by a majority of 225 votes to 223. The shadow work and pensions spokesman Lord McKenzie of Luton said:

“The government seeks to paint a perception of a compensation culture with anecdotal evidence that the threat of being sued is putting employers off recruiting. But surely the task is to focus on the reality and not to pander to this perception.”

However, Business Minister Viscount Younger of Leckie insisted:

“Claims are a burden on employers not just because of the financial costs but the time and resources required to deal with them and, importantly, the negative impact they have on the wider reputation of the business”.

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