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Time to tackle no-win, no-fee claims

7th July 2010

Former Cabinet minister Lord Young of Graffham, adviser to the Prime Minister on health and safety law and practice, says it is time to tackle the compensation culture.

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Changes in legislation over the past decade have seen “ambulance chasers” thrive with advertisements aimed at people who think they have a claim for compensation having the appeal of a “no win, no fee” arrangement.

But with this arrangement, there are costs to the loser – of legal fees and other costs, usually at a premium rate.

The NHS has suffered as a result. Claims against the NHS for clinical negligence under this arrangement rose seven-fold from 2004/5 to 2008/9, but the costs increased 16 times.

The legal system in this respect needs reform, particularly when a secretary in a government department can be awarded many times the compensation that goes to injured members of our forces who have sustained lifetime disabilities.

In reality, there is not actually a great increase in the number of people being sued but what has happened is that firm’s often go along with advice – perhaps from an unqualified consultant – because they fear their insurance company might be able to get out of their liability in whole or in part.

The problem is as common in the public sector as the private sector.

The amount of bureaucracy that is involved today on health and safety grounds for people who work in offices beggars belief.

The time has come to take a careful look at the tide of red tape that has done so little to improve safety.

 

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