Employers Liability post October 2013

Employers Liability post October 2013Nicky Carter, a self-employed Solicitor and Legal Trainer, concentrates on “the impact of the Enterprise Act” that “has left the law in a state of considerable flux.”

Recent events have brought a recognition of the importance of health and safety regulation – rather than ‘Red Tape’, regulation exists to protect us all. In the workplace the impact of the Enterprise Act has left the law in a state of considerable flux. How does the Enterprise Act 2013 impact upon cases where the accident happens post 1st October 2013?

Whilst the position was clear when the Six Pack Regulations were in full force (with Civil liability flowing from a breach ) – seismic change was brought about by the Act. 

Just what effect does a breach by a duty holder, or one of the Regulations, have upon civil liability in an accident that befalls a worker? 

The answer is that we are just beginning to find some answers.

Employers remain under a statutory duty to comply with health and safety regulations. The duties set out in statutory instruments made prior to the 2013 Act inform and define the scope of duties at common law. Whilst we can no longer run claims based directly on breach of the regulations it is important to remember Viscount Younger statement on behalf of the Government in the House of Lords:

The codified framework of requirements, responsibilities and duties placed on employers to protect their employees from harm are unchanged, and will remain relevant as evidence of the standards expected of employers in future civil claims for negligence.”

In the same debate, another Conservative peer, Lord Faulks, stated:

A breach of regulation will be regarded as strong prima facie evidence of negligence. Judges will need some persuasion that the departure from a specific and well-targeted regulation does not give rise to a claim in negligence.

 Acting on behalf of injured Claimants following workplace accidents it is important to keep abreast of the emerging arguments and allegations.

For those injured as a result of negligence of a public body or emanation of the state the position is slightly different – arguments that the provisions of the EU Directive apply directly are an interesting development. However, beware the differences between the EU Directive and the Regulatory regime- brush up on your European Law!

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