Re: We're living in a climate of legal fear, Insurance Times (page 13) 16 October 2003

John Jackson repeats unfounded assertions that Britain is in the grip of a compensation culture.

He must be aware that figures from the Compensation Recovery Unit (CRU) show that between 2000/2001 and 2002/2003, the overall number of claims decreased by almost 4%. Indeed, at this week's Department for Work and Pensions Select Committee meeting, the Minister for Work, Des Browne, commented that figures from the CRU do not point to a compensation culture.

Nobody wants to live in a nanny state. Neither do we want a culture of negligence to spiral out of control. While Mr Jackson bemoans the current climate as `sapping the will of the risk taker', it is unacceptable to expect people to take unnecessary risks, simply to protect the coffers of the insurance industry.

Insurers must stop pointing the finger and start tackling the real issue, which is to link health and safety with insurance premiums. Only then will employers begin to realise the benefits of proper health and safety practises.

Those who choose not to pay proper respect to health and safety must, however, be held accountable. Injured people cannot be expected to simply sit back and take it on the chin, knowing full well the accident which caused their injuries could have been prevented.

Employers have got away with poor health and safety standards for years. Insurers have taken advantage of a soft market to offset under-pricing of employers' liability premiums.

That market has now hardened and, as the pigeons finally come home to roost, it is inequitable for insurers to lay the blame on a "compensation culture" and undermine the rights of individuals.

Colin Ettinger
Vice-president, Association of Personal Injury Lawyers

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