Will the SARAH Bill redress the balance in health and safety culture?

Will the SARAH Bill redress the balance in health and safety culture?

The Social Action, Responsibility and Heroism Bill (SARAH Bill) was introduced in the House of Commons on 12 June 2014. The SARAH Bill is part of a number of initiatives, such as the HSE’s myth buster campaign and Red Tape Challenge, to try to get back to a more common sense health and safety approach.

The affectionately nicknamed SARAH Bill has been developed to try to redress the balance in health and safety culture and to stop employers and members of the public being held liable, despite having done the ‘right thing’ to protect others.

The current legal position for someone who causes loss or injury to another person during the course of an activity is that they face being sued for damages (in the tort of negligence) or in certain situations for breach of a statutory duty (such as the duty owned by owner/occupier of land to visitors or trespassers under the Occupiers Liability Acts 1957 and 1984).

For the claimant to be successful they need to prove that they were owed a duty of care and that the defendant’s conduct fell short of the applicable standard of care. This will involve the courts objectively considering whether the defendant acted ‘reasonably’ in all the case’s circumstances.

Will the SARAH Bill change this position? The idea is that the Bill doesn’t actually change the overarching legal framework, discussed above, but that it would instead direct the courts to consider certain factors when deciding whether the defendant took reasonable care. The factors to consider include:

  • the alleged negligence/breach of duty occurred when the defendant was acting for the benefit of society or any of its members (clause 2)
  • in carrying out the activity

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About the author:

Simone is an environmental law specialist and is head of LexisPSL Environment.

Simone moved to LexisNexis from Clyde & Co where she trained. Whilst at Clyde & Co Simone gained experience in contentious work, including large scale arbitrations, private claims and regulatory breaches, and a variety of non-contentious issues. Some of her experience includes the EU Emissions Trading System, the domestic Carbon Reduction Commitment Energy Efficiency Scheme, environmental due diligence, Energy Performance Certificates, permitting requirements and contaminated land.

Simone has written a number of articles, which have been published in various journals and is a trustee of the United Kingdom Environmental Law Association (UKELA).