June 16, 2014

In cases of negligence, the law must protect ‘everyday heroes’

This also brings forward measures that will put the law more clearly on the side of employers who do the right thing to protect employees if something does go wrong through no fault of their own.

Changes are being made 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.

The measures will also provide greater protection for business owners who face challenges from irresponsible employees even if they have taken a responsible approach to safety training and procedures.

To make sure everyday heroes are protected, the law will be changed so that judges must give weight to 3 additional factors when deciding negligence cases. These are:

  • If the person was doing something for ‘the benefit of society’ – judges must 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’ – judges must ensure the court gives consideration to the fact people may have taken care when organising an activity but an accident has happened despite this
  • If they were ‘acting in an emergency’ – judges must take into account whether they stepped in to help someone in danger but that something went wrong.

The law changes will be made in new legislation which is expected to come into effect next year.

At Royds, our experienced practitioners can provide advice to individuals on many aspects of dispute resolution, including negligence claims. For more information, please visit or contact Stewart Wilkinson or James Millar Craig.

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