The Social Action, Responsibility and Heroism Bill was introduced in the House of Commons on 12 June 2014.
Subject to its parliamentary progress, the bill is expected to receive Royal Assent by the end of parliamentary session in early 2015.
The bill has been developed in response to concerns that people may be put off from taking part in voluntary activities, helping others or intervening in emergencies due to worries about risk and liability. The government also wants to make sure that when people such as employers have been taking a responsible approach towards the safety of others during an activity and something goes wrong, the courts will take account of the circumstances.
The bill therefore contains measures to reassure people that if they’re acting for the benefit of society, intervening in an emergency or demonstrating a generally responsible approach towards the safety of others during an activity, then if something goes wrong and they are sued for negligence or for certain breaches of statutory duty, the court will take full account of the context of their actions.
The bill does not tell the court what conclusion it should reach and does not prevent a person from being found liable if the circumstances of the case warrant it. 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.
The Social Action, Responsibility and Heroism Bill is on the Parliament website.