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Employers’ liability reform and the law of unintended consequences

New employer liability rules could be largely ineffective, but will force prosecutors to take action under corporate manslaughter laws which, thus far, have proved distinctly unhelpful for employees, says Ben Posford

19 September 2013

When section 69 of ?the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act comes into force on ?1 October 2013, people injured or killed in the course of their employment will be unable to establish civil liability purely on the basis of health and safety regulatory breaches.

The government's intention is that claimants will have to return to using the common law and prove their employer has been negligent, otherwise their claim will fail.

On closer scrutiny however there may be little effect from this change to the law. But ?more worryingly the government's attitude could encourage employers to be complacent, at worse reversing recent trends in the reduction of workplace fatalities.

'Legislative burdens'

Part 5 of the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act, unwisely entitled "Reduction of legislative burdens", contains the provision changing the law on civil liability. A breach of the regulations will still be a crimi...

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