Informa Markets

Author Bio ▼

Safety and Health Practitioner (SHP) is first for independent health and safety news.
August 2, 2013

Get the SHP newsletter

Daily health and safety news, job alerts and resources

Government accused of ‘compensation culture’ deceit

The latest series of government reforms to tackle high insurance premiums have come into force, coinciding with a TUC-backed report that attacks ministers for trying to scare people into thinking the UK has a rife compensation culture.

Published on Wednesday (31 July) in union-friendly magazine Hazards, the report by Professor Rory O’Neill asserts that the number of people receiving compensation for work-related injuries or diseases has fallen by 60 per cent over the last decade — from 219,183 in 2000/01 to 87,655 in 2011/12 — despite what ministers claim.
Based on figures from the HSE, the report shows the chances of receiving compensation for most occupational cancers is below one in 50. It also claims that those suffering from stress, anxiety and depression are even less likely to receive compensation, with 293 cases out of 221,000 resulting in a payout in 2011/12.
The TUC says that ministers have exaggerated claims in order to introduce a series of policies that make it harder for victims to seek compensation.
Changes to ‘no win, no fee’ deals, and the ban on referral fees were brought in on 1 April, as part of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012. These changes mean that claimants now have to pay a ‘success fee’ if the case is won, which can be up to 25 per cent of the damages awarded, says the TUC.
On the same day the report in Hazards was published, the Ministry of Justice announced that uncontested compensation claims for ‘slips and trips’ and other injuries at work, or in a public place will be handled by a simpler legal system.
These changes mean that claims of up to £25,000 for injuries at work or in public places will now be handled using an out-of-court ‘claims portal’, which is intended to reduce the amount spent on legal fees by defendants, or their insurers. The change doesn’t alter the amount compensation victims will receive for genuine claims.
The move is part of a series of reforms brought in by the Government to tackle the high costs of insurance premiums. Other changes include:
  • lawyers are no longer allowed to double their fees if they win a no-win, no-fee case;
  • a ban on ‘referral fees’ paid between lawyers, insurers, claims firms, and others for profitable claims;
  • claims firms banned from offering upfront cash incentives or gifts to people who bring them claims; and
  • a reduction by more than half in the fees lawyers charge insurers for processing uncontested compensation claims for minor road-accident injuries.
Hazard’s report claims that these Government measures are stopping people who have been injured as a result of their jobs from seeking compensation through the court.
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “The true government motive here is to weaken health and safety laws and make it harder for victims to pursue claims.
“The end result is likely to be a much higher rate of workplace accidents, injuries and illnesses in future.”
Justice Minister Helen Grant said: “We are turning the tide on the compensation culture, which has pushed up the cost of insurance for drivers, schools and business — and taking another important step to reducing the cost of living for ordinary people.”
The Hazards report can be found at:

Related Topics

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments