Law must protect everyday heroes

2 June, 2014
by: Cripps Pemberton Greenish

The Justice Secretary Chris Grayling has today announced that new legislation is on its way which is designed to counteract the growing perception that people risk being successfully sued if they do something for the common good – like leading a school trip, organising a village fete, clearing snow from a path in front of their home or helping in an emergency situation.

A Ministry of Justice press release (see link below) indicates that the law will be changed so that judges will have to give weight to 3 additional factors when deciding negligence cases:

  • If the person was doing something for “the benefit of society” – to give weight to the fact people were doing a good deed like volunteering, running an event or trip, or helping out by clearing snow
  • If they had been acting in a “generally responsible way” – to make sure the court will give consideration to the fact people may have taken care when organising an activity but an accident has happened
  • If they were “acting in emergency” – if they stepped in to help someone in danger but something went wrong.

It will be interesting to see how the law develops in light of these changes, which are expected to come into force next year.