Justice secretary proposes bill to protect volunteers from liability for negligence

Chris Grayling says measures in the Social Action, Responsibility and Heroism Bill will encourage volunteers who might otherwise be deterred by the fear of lawsuits

The justice secretary, Chris Grayling, has proposed a new bill, the Social Action, Responsibility and Heroism Bill, to curb what he called “the elf and safety culture” that can discourage people from volunteering.

The bill, which Grayling has nicknamed “Sarah”, would, he said, release people who are “doing the right thing in our society” from feeling constrained by the fear of facing a lawsuit for negligence. Writing a blog on the website ConservativeHome yesterday, he said: “We need a system that is rooted in common sense. Of course those who are negligent, or who act in a way that is foolish or reckless, should be able to be punished by the law. But those who are trying to do the right thing should believe that the law will be on their side.

“And that is precisely what Sarah will do. The best way to describe the proposed bill is that it will serve as a signpost from parliament to the courts. It will set out very simple protections for those people who act in the interests of society, responsibly or heroically. It will say to the courts that we want their decisions clearly to take into account whether people have been trying to do the right thing or not. And in particular we want the bill to serve as a deterrent to jobsworths trying to punish people for doing so.”

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