Lord Young's Recommendations On Health & Safety Law Reform Expected This Month

In the July edition of our Health and Safety newsletter, we reported on the government's review of health and safety legislation led by Lord Young, a former lawyer and Cabinet Minister during the Thatcher years.

While his report has not yet been published, Lord Young has addressed the media and the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham on the tone of his report. In light of his address to the Conservatives, it would appear that much of the focus of his report will be on eliminating unnecessary bureaucracy on businesses and curbing the UK's compensation culture.

In relation to what Lord Young considers excessive bureaucracy, he stated to the conference that he will get rid of "unnecessary restrictions and... red tape that harms and protects no-one". He further cited the statistic that "for firms employing under ten it takes one person a full day a month just to comply" and commented that the existing regime exists more to protect businesses from litigation than prevent accidents. The indication is that some statutory forms and assessments under the current regime will be scrapped, benefiting businesses of all sizes.

Separately, in a swipe at "no-win, no fee" advertising by lawyers, Lord Young has said that he is "ashamed of the depths that some have stooped to". Rather than enabling access to justice, Lord Young's view is that the advertising of such fee arrangements is an incitement to litigate. It is likely that the report will recommend the implementation of reforms to curb speculative litigation already proposed by Lord Jackson in his review of civil litigation procedure.

While we will not know for certain until the report is published, it is likely that the following proposals will make an appearance:-

  1. A crack-down on the way that law firms advertise their services - particularly for those practising on a "no-win, no-fee" basis;

  2. A "Good Samaritan" law to make it clear that people will not be liable for voluntary actions to help others which may...

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