Those who warn against the growth of a 'compensation culture' should stop the myth becoming a reality, says Neil Kinsella

Regulating the activities of those more colourful entrepreneurs and law firms that perpetuate the idea of the 'compensation culture' was never going to be easy.

But when the government outlined its plans in response to the Better Regulation Task Force recently I was depressed by some of the predictions on their potential for success.

Hollow words of condemnation from those in the industry about the objectionable practices of some mean nothing if those same objectors do not actively help solve what is a difficult enough problem.

The blame game is an easy one to play and those that say "we should all have seen it coming and done something earlier", fail to acknowledge that we are all in fact guilty of encouraging the rising tide of compensation and cultivating the companies that provided us with claims.

The truth is something needs to be done to stop the companies and individuals that have - and continue to - undermined the true spirit of the Woolf reforms and to promote the 'compensation culture'.

The aggressive advertising encouraging those who think they are victims is obscene, as is the continued spread of the no-win, no-fee approach - all of this needs to stop.

However, the self-regulation option, as an alternative to draconian rules, will be impossible to implement without the full support of the legal profession and, probably more importantly, the insurance industry.

Some have already suggested that the government should abandon the pretence of allowing claims management companies to self-regulate and just get on with regulation.

But the activities that are deemed harmful are extremely difficult to legislate against and rules could take years to enforce

In the meantime, the increased costs and spurious claims will continue. Do we really want another TAG or Claims Direct debacle...?

And do we really want to encourage the diminishing of society and an individual's sense of personal responsibility?

Without the full weight of companies like Norwich Union, AXA, Zurich and law firms like ours - the opportunity to sort this mess out will be missed.

The government needs our help if its recommendations are to succeed; the Claims Standards Council too needs our help, and it needs people to join it and develop regulation that works.

Waiting and seeing is not an option - the status quo will continue and those who are advocates against the spread of an 'American compensation culture' will no longer be dealing with a myth but a reality. IT

' Neil Kinsella is managing partner of Russell Jones & Walker