Legislation is being introduced next year to protect “Good Samaritans” who are acting for “the common good”.
The Social Action, Responsibility and Heroism Bill has been developed to reassure first aiders and voluntary workers that they cannot be sued for accidents that happen when they are attending to those who need help or are in distress. There was concern that people were being deterred from taking part in voluntary activities, helping others or intervening in emergencies due to worries about risk and liability. Responsible employers with a positive attitude to Health & Safety will also be protected by ensuring the courts consider the context of an incident if a negligence case is brought.
“The bill does not tell the court what conclusion it should reach and does not prevent a person being found liable if the circumstances of the case warrant it,” said the government. “It does not therefore give anybody licence to take unnecessary risks with people’s safety or leave the injured party without a remedy when the defendant has failed to meet the appropriate standard of care. “However, it will send a strong signal to reassure people that the courts will consider, in all cases, the wider context of the defendant’s actions before reaching a conclusion on liability.”