The problems with employers' liability (EL), as I see it are more complex than are made out by Brian Cotter MP (4 June,

Claims farmers, such as The Accident Group (TAG), have been guilty in turning what has been an inconvenience for some people - those who had walked away from an accident and thought nothing more about it - and changed it into something that it was not, a claim for damages.

However, was the writing not on the wall when the government introduced legislation in the mid-1980s allowing solicitors and accident groups to advertise?

During the preceding years anyone who was seriously injured or suffered a loss was suitably reimbursed, and knew, or found out how to make a recovery, via brokers, the Citizens Advice Bureaux, the Law Society, word of mouth or even by visiting a local solicitor.

Those were the days when we would tell housewives they would not get a courtesy car as their need wasn't great enough, and they could also always use the bus for the shopping and to get the children from school, but perhaps the insurer might chip in towards some of those costs.

People still had the same rights, but with them came responsibilities. Today, responsibilities have vanished, and only rights remain.

Yes, Cotter was right, there remains a need to ensure that businesses are safe for people to work in, and the implementation and overseeing of good health and safety plans is paramount, but these good practices will not stop spurious and inflated claims.

Nor will they stop the continuing burden placed on the insurance industry by claims such as those caused by asbestos dust being breathed in decades ago.

Will making claiming through the courts cheaper make things any better?

Well, no. Spurious no-win, no-fee claims and staged accident claims will still be made, even false claims are reported to be currently under investigation between TAG and Arriva.

What brought about the demise of TAG was the high cost of litigation and the subsequent insurance costs. If these after-the-event (ATE) insurance policies are rated like any other product, those who represent honest and genuine cases will be resolved by the insurer concerned quickly and favourably, and without the claims handling company having to resort to claiming against the ATE insurance policies too often.

Those with less than satisfactory claims experience will be hampered by the burden of costs and this seems to me to be a very good thing.

Andrew Kirby
Commercial account manager
Clement Gallagher & Co

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