Employers Liability Claims Update

The Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 became law in October 2014 and has since changed the face of employer’s liability claims.

Prior to this act, employers had a duty under Common Law, as well as a statutory duty under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and the so called “Six Pack” of Regulations introduced in 1992, to provide safe place/method/equipment and access to work for their employees.

Under this former regime, claims by employees against their employers were easier to prove. By showing negligence on the part of the Employer and foreseeability of the accident claims could succeed. Strict liability, in respect of certain sections of the legislation, meant that they would succeed in their claims. Therefore, it was difficult for the employer to disprove fault in relation to defective equipment.

The new act has changed this position entirely. The background to this is the government clamping down on the so called “compensation culture”. There was a general feeling that Health and Safety was becoming ridiculous and was causing a great deal of red tape. Unfortunately, this is another way in which the government have attempted to reduce the numbers of claims made by employees. In the writers view this is another way of restricting access to justice. The previous legislation was there for a very good reason as employers often avoided paying compensation for their acts of negligence. By introducing this new legislation, accidents in the workplace have become more difficult to prove and there is a danger of reverting back to Victorian standards of safety, where the employee had little or no rights of redress for the employer’s negligence.

The new legislation amendment reverses the present position on civil liability, i.e, unless any exceptions apply, it is only possible to claim for compensation, where negligence has been proved. This means that liability under statutory duty has been removed. The Claimant can now only rely on Common Law negligence. In line with other amendments, reforms of Personal Injury Claims, the Government is seeking to again limit the circumstances under which a Claimant can successfully receive damages for an injury at work. The Claimants can still rely on breach of Health and Safety Legislation however, only as evidence, rather than as a statutory obligation. The effect of this is that Defendants/Employers are in a stronger position. This leads to claims being defended with fewer admissions of liability at an early stage. Taking on these claims is less attractive for solicitor as there are now also fixed fees in cases valued under £25,000.

This may leave many employees feeling dejected, however at Bloomsbury Law we have experience in dealing with such cases.

If you would like more information on employers liability claims, speak to our Personal Injury Solicitor, Zahreen Hussain on 020 7998 7777 or email her at zahreen.hussain@bloomsbury-law.com.

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