David Arculus reports on the true state of the UK's compensation culture and developments in rehabilitation processes

Sir David Arculus outlined the findings of the Better Regulation Task Force's (BRTF) report published in November 2004. He told delegates there was little evidence of a compensation culture in the UK, and said the government had made some progress on the report's recommendations.

The report also found that the national press encouraged the existence of a culture, television adverts promised enticing no win, no fee arrangements, and that there had been a backlash against ambulance chasers. Since November the compensation culture myth had swollen, encouraging people to take their chance of winning a large pay-out, he said.

Arculus welcomed the government's commitment to stamp out the rising claims tide. "A more balanced and intelligent debate on the whole nature of risk and our response to it is essential," he said.

Arculus was outraged to hear about a police accident report form carrying claims advertising on the back.

He said he expected the Compensation Bill to crack down on claims management companies, enforce regulation and set higher standards. It would also clarify existing common laws on negligence.

Coupled with the Compensation Bill the BRTF recommended that the government encourage improvements in rehabilitation.

There had already been a series of initiatives in line with the BRTF, including the NHS Redress Bill and work on simplifying conditional fee arrangements.

Arculus urged the government to enhance its rehabilitation schemes, saying the UK lagged behind other countries in getting people back to work. He said claims management companies exacerbated the problem by working on a percentage of a cash settlement.

"There is no incentive for people to accept rehabilitation, and I hope that the regulation of claims farmers will address this point," Arculus told delegates. "We'd like to see greater provision of no-fault rehabilitation."

He called on the government to force early intervention, and for the liability issues to be resolved as a "matter of urgency." The DWP report on rehabilitation, Arculus complained, had not materialised despite a promise for it to be published in February.

"The DWP's recent national framework for vocational rehabilitation has no timetable or action for delivery, and I cannot overemphasise the importance of better rehabilitation to individuals and the economy."

Sir David Arculus

Chairman, Better Regulation Task Force