What is the impact of Section 69 of the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013?
1st October, 2013 may not be a date most people will remember, but, for lawyers who specialise in employers’ liability claims, 1st October, 2013 is a date they will certainly have made a note of.
If your accident at work happened after 1st October, 2013, you may not be able to recover compensation for your injury despite the fact that another employee injured in exactly the same circumstances before 1st October, 2013 was able to recover damages.
This bizarrely unfair situation has come about because of the repeal of Section 47 of the Health and Safety at work Act 1974, which imposed a civil right of action for a breach of a large number of health and safety regulations.
Section 69 of the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 amends the law such that a breach of duty imposed by health and safety regulations will no longer be actionable in the civil courts unless the regulation says so.
Section 47 of the Health and Safety At Work Act 1974 said: “Breach of a duty imposed by health and safety regulations…shall so far as it causes damage, be actionable except in so far as the regulations provide otherwise.” Section 69 says: “Breach of a duty imposed by a statutory instrument containing (whether alone or with other provision) health and safety regulations shall not be actionable except to the extent that regulations under this section so provide.”
The point is illustrated if we look at the case of “Stark v Post office.”
Mr Stark was injured at work due to a defect in the bicycle provided by his employer. He successfully brought a claim for compensation against his employer by relying upon the relevant health and safety regulation that required his employer to “ensure work equipment is maintained in an efficient state, in efficient working order and in good repair.”
However, had Mr Stark been injured using the same bicycle after 1st October, 2013, his claim would have failed.
The defect to the bicycle was not a defect which his employer knew about or could have discovered. It was a latent defect and there is no “fault” on the part of his employer in the normally understood sense in those circumstances.
This does not mean the regulations have no relevance and a thorough understanding of health and safety regulations is essential when advising an employee on a potential claim for an accident at work.
Jeff Logan is a Personal Injury Lawyer at Slater and Gordon Lawyers in Liverpool.
For a free consultation about a work accident compensation claim, call our No Win No Fee Personal Injury Lawyers 24 hours 7 days a week on freephone 0800 916 9046 or contact us online and we will get back to you.