The so-called "Compensation Culture"

In recent years politicians and others have made compelling comments about "the Compensation Culture" and how this is harming the economy. There have been 6-figure sums paid to people for relatively trivial injuries and as a result of the increasing bill for legal costs covered by Legal Aid payments the system has been changed.
Prior to this it was assumed that a plaintiff with legal aid would have the advantage of limitless funds over a privately funded defendant but if this ever was true it is certainly not today.
The change of rules was supposed to bring about fewer compensation claims.
Also introduced was the benefit recovery process, which forced those unable to work to pay back the money received from the government between the time they were unable to work and the time that compensation was paid. Many wondered why the injured party had to return that money when defendants failed to successfully challenge cases in Court, as there would have been no cost at all to government had the injury not been caused and the lives of the injured parties and their families may already have been irreparably damaged.
However those aspects may be dealt with in the future.
What is clear now is that the changes made have actually made the situation of those with serious injury much worse than for those with relatively trivial short-term problems and in one of those overlooked quirks of political policy an unexpected result is that more people who would have been compensated for their injuries so that they could live independently from the State are now forced to live their lives on State Benefits.
Not only does this increase the cost to the taxpayer but officials who have acted to ensure the failure of cases in which government agency decisions are involved only add to the bills by ensuring that the payments in Legal Aid are not recovered from those who cause the injuries.

In reality the number of small claims has not been checked and the costs are rising whilst at the same time those with serious issues in their cases, especially when Government agencies and policy are involved as with vaccines, radiation, chemicals, and military claims, are now finding access to justice greatly restricted if not impossible.

In recent years Governments have further limited access to justice by denying the right to legal aid, and therefore legal assistance, in any cases that may involve directly or indirectly officials of Government or errors in the decision-making process.
This would appear to be in breach of International Rights.

The following information compares two cases where employees have been injured at work.
The reader may find the comparative actions and results interesting but they represent two real cases in the same area of the UK and indicate worrying trends in the justice system.

The first case is that of a shop assistant injured at work but with injuries so minor that work was resumed after the employer took the time to ensure hospital treatment for a minor burn, holidays were taken, then time away from work was paid by the employer at which time the employee decided to retract admissions made and take legal action for compensation in hopes to reduce pre-existing debt.
The second involved a farm worker also injured at work by the negligent and unlawful mixing of dangerous chemicals that were then stored and disposed of unlawfully. The exposure resulted in serious illness and the employer's refusal to provide doctors with details of those chemicals resulted in treatment with contraindicated drugs, worsening the effects of the injury which became permanent and seriously disabling to an extent that he was no longer able to work or even to leave home without risk to life.

Note that it is an offence for an employer to fail to report accidents resulting from serious events and which lead to time away from work.

The table below gives a limited comparison of how those two real cases were resolved.

Case Comparison

EMPLOYMENT Shop Assistant Farm Worker
INCIDENT Minor burn to arm Exposure to illegal pesticides
HOW INJURY OCCURED Falling hot surface of machine Removing pipe from chemical pump fed by tank assumed to be empty
ACCIDENT REPORTED? Yes by Employer. Not by Employee Not by Employer. Yes by Employee
CAUSATIVE FACTORS Inadequate repairs. Carelessness Chemicals mixed, stored and disposed of unlawfully. No Warning
NEGLIGENCE BY Employer and Employee Employer and senior staff breached regulations despite training
DISHONESTY INVOLVED? Employee gave false information Employer and representatives gave false information to Court and DWP
EMPLOYER LAPSES Failure to repair machine correctly Breaches of employment, safety, pesticide and COSHH regulations
EMPLOYEE NEGLIGENCE CCTV showed lack of attention None as no prior knowledge of risk - No warnings and no protection
COMMENTS ON FAULT Employee admitted not concentrating Verbal admissions from staff involved - confirmed in court and HSE statements
INVESTIGATION? Health and Safety prosecution Health and Safety refused to get involved - then hid and falsified evidence
ACCIDENT STATUS Minor injury Confirmed Industrial Injury (After a battle with authority)
FINES Yes None
SANCTIONS ON EMPLOYER Yes - Caution for life None
LEGAL COSTS TO EMPLOYEE Legal No-Win-No-Fee Legal Aid Contributions. Forced into Group Action with additional costs
LEGAL COST TO EMPLOYER Increased Insurance Premiums None
COMPENSATION PAYMENT? Yes - over 7000 None but employee liable for all legal/benefit costs on record for life
PUBLIC SAFETY INTERESTS? None SERIOUS PUBLIC HEALTH AND SAFETY ISSUES
OFFICIAL INVOLVEMENT Fully upheld Safety Law Protected employer. Hid the evidence and perverted justice.
EMPLOYEE HEALTH Fully recovered Disabled for life. Housebound. At risk of Death.
OFFICIAL VIEW SERIOUS INCIDENT INDUSTRIAL ACCIDENT but symptoms "ALL IN THE MIND"

As can be seen in the table above the more serious damage to the working person is hidden in order to protect industry and Government officials but relatively trivial matters are settled to the disadvantage even of those employers who really do care about their employees.
All too often it is reported that those working for Government are handsomely compensated for "stress" at work or from minor trips and falls but in cases, even of deaths, at work where Government or related industries are involved the injured party and their families are immediately put at disadvantage.

It is those compensation payments for relatively minor injuries that have triggered the phrase "Compensation Culture" but it is interesting that those who most use the phrase would likely be the first to approach their lawyers should they be injured by the mistakes of others.
In all too many cases the real beneficiaries of the UK Legal System are not those injured by accident or during the course of their work. The real winners in the so-called "Compensation Culture" are the lawyers, barristers, and "expert witnesses", all of whom can gain significant financial benefit even when their actions cause perfectly reasonable and serious cases to lose in court - or even in pre-trial hearings.
It is important to note that deliberately inflating legal costs on what should be relatively easy cases to win has been a tried and tested method by which legal fees can rise so much that the Cost : Benefit ratio is set against the injured party, so denying their right to a fair hearing in the Courts.
Of more importance is that when blatant fraud, perjury and perversion of justice have been repeatedly reported to the authorities there is a determination to protect the perpetrators.
This was proven to be true when just such criminal actions were reported both to the Police and to those whose responsibility it is to prosecute in such cases. The comment made was "These people are obviously well-protected." and all refused even to investigate the serious issues involved.
It really is one law for some and another for others and yet even the Prime Minster of the UK has stated frequently that no person is above the law".

That Statement is plainly completely untrue.

Dated 18/4/2013

Go to top

  Return to Front Page;   Return to Contents file   Return to "Latest pages";   Return to Front Page;   Go to OPs file