Lord Young Publishes Report on Health and Safety Law

Lord Young's keenly anticipated Report Common Sense, Common Safety was published on 15 October 2010 to enthusiastic endorsement by the Government, Health & Safety Executive (HSE) and insurers.

The Report addresses aspects of the current regime that the Government perceives to be disproportionately burdensome on small or low-risk businesses and public bodies. The Prime Minister, in his foreword to the Report, states that businesses are "drowned in rep tape, confusion and the fear of being sued for even minor accident". It is against that background that Lord Young's review has been conducted. The report also addresses the rise of the Britain's 'compensation culture'.

Lord Young makes recommendations in relation to the following key areas:

Court procedure and the regulation of lawyers and claims companies; The regulatory burden on small or low-risk businesses; The accessibility of Health & Safety legislation; and The application of health and safety law to schools, public bodies and the emergency services. Curbing the Compensation Culture

Lord Young reports that Britain's compensation culture is fuelled by "media stories about individuals receiving large payouts...constant adverts in the media...and the promise of handsome settlement if they claim". The introduction of Conditional Fee Arrangements (CFAs), After The Event (ATE) insurance products and proliferation of claims management companies are highlighted as causes. The Report recommends:

Introduction of a simplified claims procedure for personal injury claims similar to the existing Road Traffic Accident Personal Injury Scheme, whereby claims for under £10,000 are dealt with on a fixed-cost basis; ATE premiums and CFA 'success fees' cease to be recoverable from the losing party in litigation; A ban on the referral fees currently paid by solicitors to claims companies for referred business; and Restricting the volume and content of advertising by solicitors and claims companies, which is currently seen to induce claims. Unburdening Low-Risk Business

The cost of regulatory compliance falls disproportionately on SMEs who may have to spend as much as six times more per employee than larger businesses. Lord Young's proposals will, if implemented, significantly reduce the regulatory and cost burdens of compliance for many. They include:

Simplification of the risk assessment for low hazard workplaces such as offices, classrooms and shops and a simple periodic checklist for monitoring compliance...

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