Compensation “A. Insurance claims on Motor and (Employers’ /

Compensation culture in
the United Kingdom:

There is an assumption
that ‘compensation culture’ is circulating in the veins of the United Kingdom this assumption is merely based
on media reports and academic discussions. But there are critiques to this
assumption as well and their argument is rational. The ones who claim that
Culture exists their argument is based on judgments in cases like “Smith others
vs. Ministry of Defense”1
(MoD), where the MoD has been held liable for breach of duty of care, further
to it in case of “Chester vs. Afshar”2  where the doctor was held liable for post
procedure injuries. Even in case of “Woodland vs. Swimming Teachers Association”3
where it was held that duty of care is non-delegable, even if it is out sourced
to technically competent third party.

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The critiques to the
assumption, states that the reality is different from perception, all claims
are not successful, only the ones which have large social implications are allowed.
As per K. Williams “It may be that too many wrongful harms in some areas go
uncompensated or that compensation levels are low, comparatively speaking”4.The
government of United kingdom has conducted a study ‘Better Regulation Task Force’
(BRTF) where it was found that compared to other nations of the developed world
United Kingdom has the lowest compensation paid compared to GDP5. There
was also a working committee chaired by Julian Lowe to compute ‘The cost of
Compensation culture”, the there study
was based to types of claims and the cost incurred and the following are the
types of claims which are common in the UK:

“A. Insurance
claims on Motor and (Employers’ / Public) Liability policies

B. NHS claims
(negligence / medical malpractice)

C. Local /
Education Authorities (accidents in the street, inappropriate childcare or poor
quality teaching, for example)

D. Police /
Ministry of Defense / Other Public Services (from policemen, soldiers and so
on, either directly for trauma at work, or from members of the public)

E. Criminal
Compensation (from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority)

F. Ministry of
Agriculture (in respect of Foot and Mouth, or BSE, for example)

G. Department of
Trade and Industry (for industrial injuries, such as compensation to former
British Coal miners for lung disease)”6

Being a common law
country where the courts have the power to make the law through precedents, the
courts have to play a role of watch dog to keep an eye on the development of ‘compensation
culture’7. Even
though the government is striving hard to control the culture by introducing
compensation bill, access to justice act, but it’s the court which is the last
resort has to take measures to check and control the development of ‘compensation

The role of the courts
in checking the compensation culture;

The courts play a very
vital role in checking the development of compensation culture through the passing of judgments, as most of the academician’s
state that law of Tort is mostly judge made law rather than a statue, as most
of the core principles are found in judgments E.g. CAPRO, Farichild and
woodland etc.8



Smith & others vs. Ministry of Defense 2013 UKSC 41

Chester vs. Afshar 2005 1 Ac 13

3  Woodland vs. Swimming teachers Association 2013

4  Ibid 2

Better Regulation Task Force, Better Routes to Redress (2004)

6 The
Institute of Actuaries  Working
Party  The cost of Compensation Culture (December

Ibid 16

Ibid 7


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