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APIL tells parliament that SARAH Bill is 'unnecessary’

Education, not legislation, needed to prevent litigation, claims not-for-profit organisation

9 September 2014

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The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) has given evidence to a parliamentary committee on the effects of the Social Action, Responsibility and Heroism (SARAH) Bill, calling it 'ill thought-through', 'populist', and a 'waste of parliamentary time'.

The Bill, which aims to allow would-be heroes and volunteers to act without fear of being sued, is currently making its way through parliament.

However, APIL president John Spencer told MPs that the Bill is unnecessary, as Good Samaritans have nothing to fear from the current law.

"There is a need for education here. We should not be legislating to deal with a perception," said Spencer.

"The Bill deals with a problem which doesn't exist and in turn could have unintended consequences," he went on. "By trying to adjust a problem which is merely a perception, the government could create another problem".

APIL fears that 'would-be heroes' will be able to disregard whether their actions result in help or harm because they will be protected by the new law.

Spencer explained: "There is a danger that it could encourage unsafe, even reckless, behaviour whilst seeking to encourage heroic behaviour.

"The aims and objectives that the government sets out to encourage people to act for the good of society without fear of reprisal are indeed laudable, but I challenge the method."

He continued: "None of us would want to send our child off on a school trip and have them injured, and likewise we don't want them to be prevented from going on the trip because of a fear of litigation. But the fear is based on perception and we need education, not legislation, to address that."

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