There have been recent steps by the government towards an abolition of strict liability in Employers’ Liability cases by introducing a clause into the Regulatory Reform Bill.
The Act has now received Royal Assent and its aim is to remove the right of civil action against employers for breach of statutory duty in relation to certain health and safety legislation. However this would not apply if such a right is specifically provided for in law.
The amendment refers to Section 47 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 which removes the right to bring civil claims for breach of statutory duty contained in the legislation. It would therefore seem that a defence of “reasonable practicability” will be applied in the majority of cases and will mean that the claimant cannot bring a civil action for breach of Health and Safety Statutory Duty unless the regulation expressly provides for it. In most cases it will require the claimant to prove that the injury resulted from the employer’s negligence for breach of a non-strict statutory duty.
This is obviously advantageous to employers and insurers alike and the change is expected to come into force on 1st October 2013 and would only apply to breaches that occur after this date.