But Aviva backs moves to ease compensation culture

Personal injury lawyers have slammed David Cameron’s pledge to crack down on the so-called health and safety compensation culture.

Responding to comments by the prime minister in a speech on health and safety in Maidenhead earlier today, Association of Personal Injury Lawyers president David Bott said: “Although we are yet to see the detail of this latest announcement, we have grave concerns that the government is pushing through too many swathing changes to the system at once without proper consideration as to the implications for injured people.

“The danger is that workers could be exposed to an unnecessary risk of injury and then be left with a civil justice system that cuts them off from their right to full and fair redress.

“Instead of watering down the rules which are designed to protect workers, businesses should be made to feel confident in the knowledge they have nothing to fear from litigation provided they take reasonable steps to prevent needless injury. Any fear businesses have should be for the welfare of their staff, not legal costs.

“We are always keen to help find efficiencies in the system that do not prevent injured people from bringing genuine claims. But it is far too early to consider extending the new streamlined process for lower-value road traffic accident cases, as it still has teething problems and remains far from being the finished article.”

But the prime minister’s comments were welcomed by Aviva. A spokesman said: “Aviva welcomes any measures to ease compensation culture and the health and safety burden faced by businesses across the UK. As the largest insurer of SMEs in the UK, we see our role to help businesses manage their risks in an efficient way to give them the best chance for growth and prosperity.

“Compensation culture remains one of the main threats insurers face to offering affordable cover; we have been working with the government on this issue for many years, and fully agree that more work needs to be done to bring the root causes of compensation culture under control.

“We would also welcome the opportunity to be part of talks with the government on the need to reduce red tape. We have been very active in this area; in 2009 we created our own Cut Red Tape website, designed to provide our commercial customers with legal and business advice on issues such as HR, the impact of new legislation and managing the risks and opportunities provided by e-commerce.”