Apil set for fight on Compensation Bill

An unlikely alliance between lawyers and politicians is setting out to challenge the Government’s draft Compensation Bill ahead of its passage through Parliament.

The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (Apil) is supporting a report produced by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Insurance & Financial Services, which proposes axing the bill’s clause defining negligence.

Apil and the All Party Group are arguing that the clause’s inclusion stems from a mistaken perception that a compensation culture exists.

Apil president Allan Gore QC said: “You don’t legislate to deal with a perception, you educate. You only legislate if you want to change the law; the Government says this isn’t intended to change the common law, so what is the point of it in the first place?”
The controversial clause outlines negligence as it is currently defined by common law, adding that courts should take into account whether or not a defendant was taking part in a “desirable activity” at the time that an incident took place.

Ministers have indicated that the clause is designed to encourage organisers of school trips and similar activities not to fear legal action if something goes wrong.

Both Apil and the All Party Group support the bill’s proposals to regulate claims-management companies.

The group’s chair, Conservative MP for Ryedale, North Yorkshire John Greenway, said in the report: “There are too many reports of horror stories of ambulance-chasing, people being encouraged to submit dubious claims and then being left with debts, for this sector to go on being unregulated.”