On the compensation culture

There are many many news stories about the reality or myth of a compensation culture. As you can see from the selection of news reports below the debate as to the type and extent of compensation claims has been going on for years. Here are just a few examples:

Cost of NHS negligence claims likely to double by 2023, says study, 23 June 2017

Attitudes to claiming: the 'compensation culture', Daily Mirror, 10 February 2015

Mark Wilson, 'We need to put the brakes on compensation culture' The Telegraph, 27 Sept 2014

Claire Carter, ‘Judge refuses whiplash damages as he criticises Britain's 'compensation culture'’ The Telegraph, 26 March 2014

Memphis Barker, ‘From the military to the NHS - maybe a compensation culture is just what we need’ The Independent, 24 June 2013

‘Compensation culture is damaging our children’ – ITV News & Daybreak, 10 June 2013

Ministry of Justice press release, ‘Turning the tide on the compensation culture’, 1 May 2013

BBC News, ‘Injury claim referral fees to be banned’ 9 September 2011

BBC News, ‘£570k compensation paid out to NI schoolchildren’ 24 August 2011

‘Compensation culture: a history of bizarre personal injury claims in Britain’ The Guardian, 14 July 2011  

BBC News, ‘Royal wedding: Cameron urges street party celebrations’ 11 April 2011

Jaya Narain, ‘Ridiculous compensation culture claims and pay-outs burden on tourist attractions’ Daily Mail, 26 April 2010

BBC News, 'Schools' £600k compensation bill', 3 December 2008

BBC News, 'Caretaker wins paving slab pay-out', 5 December 2008

BBC News, 'How did no-win no-fee change things?', 7 May 2008

BBC News, 'Tory bid to boost adventure trips', 1 October 2007,

BBC News, ‘Olympic training lift for bin men’, 20 January, 2005

BBC News, 'Schools 'shying away from trips', 28 September, 2004

Watch this video link to discussion of compensation culture – which discusses proposals which eventually became the Compensation Act 2006 (discussed in chapter 8)

If you’re going to be looking at the compensation culture – here’s the injury lawyers 4U ad campaign featuring Billy Murray: or – for a bit of ‘comedy’ – here’s the one where the woman lawyer falls over:

If you’re wanting a bit of balance to the vast array of newspaper reports suggesting the NHS is paying out millions – the NHS Litigation Authority website is a good place to start. See here: and

Pupils wear goggles for conkers, 4 October 2004 – referenced in Chapter 1
A video clip of the Headmaster of the school explaining his decision.

The Truth About the McDonald's Coffee Lawsuit – a video

Judicial and political speeches on the compensation culture

Lord Sumption

Personal Injuries Bar Association Annual Lecture, London Abolishing Personal Injuries Law - A project, 16 November 2017

Lord Dyson

Compensation Culture: Fact or Fantasy? Lord Dyson MR, Holdsworth Club Lecture, 15 March 2013

You can watch Lord Dyson deliver his Holdsworth Club Lecture where he comments on Woodroffe-Hedley and the criticism his judgment garnered in the press:

And read the Law Society Gazette report on Lord Dyson’s speech – ‘Compensation Culture is “media-created” myth’, 25 March 2013

Magna Carta and Compensation – a lecture by Lord Dyson

David Cameron

Business boosting measures announced, Downing Street Press Release, 5 January 2012

Laura Roberts, ‘David Cameron pledges to curb compensation culture’ The Telegraph, 15 October 2010

Geoffrey Bindman ‘Safety First? The critical perils of Cameron's "compensation culture", Opendemocracy, 18 April 2012

Tony Blair

This is the news report of Tony Blair's speech on the compensation culture in 2005 You can read full text of the speech here

Blair’s speech was widely reported in the press – here are just a few examples.

Johann Hari 'If only we did have a compensation culture' The Independent 1 June 2005

Matthew Tempest 'Blair attacks 'compensation culture'' The Guardian 26 May 2005

A related article by Jennie Bristow explores the dangers of a risk-adverse culture: 'Unwrapping the cotton wool kids'

Civil Liability Act 2018

A Bill to make provision about whiplash claims and the personal injury discount rate.

Civil Liability Act 2018—bad news for claimants and their lawyers:

Reports on the compensation culture

Furedi and Bristow’s Report

Frank Furedi and Jennie Bristow, The Social Cost of Litigation, Centre for Policy Studies, 2012

Frank Furedi talks to Tim Black about his new report on how the compo frenzy is fuelling a climate of suspicion across the public sector here: The immorality of compensation culture

And you can read some of the media coverage here:

Löfstedt Independent Report for the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions - 2011
Ragnar E Löfstedt ‘Reclaiming health and Safety for all: An independent review of health and safety legislation’ November 2011:

Ragnar E Löfstedt ‘Reclaiming Health and Safety for all: a review of progress one year on’ January 2013:

Health and Safety Executive - 2011

Health and Safety Executive ‘School trips and outdoor learning activities: Tackling the health and safety myths’ 6 June 2011:

Lord Young’s Common Sense, Common Safety Report 2010

This webpage includes clips of Lord Young discussing the report

You can read Lord Young’s report here

And read and listen to the Daily Mail’s take on Young’s Report here

Better Regulation Task Force Report

The Better Regulation Task Force report on tackling the compensation culture Better Routes to Redress can be accessed here

This is the Government's response to the report

You can read the Association of British Insurers’ take on the compensation culture here – ‘Tackling the Compensation Culture: The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill – Improving the System for All

Woodroffe-Hedley v Cuthbertson

There are a few interesting newspaper articles on the practical issues raised by this case:

“How the law of the land fares on the highest peaks”, Alex Wade, The Times, 21 September 2004 [now behind pay wall - but should be available via LexisNexis]

See also, “Go Tell it on the Mountain” The Guardian, 21 June 1997 [via LexisNexis – or similar]

The case is also discussed by Julian Fulbrook in his book “Outdoor Activities, Negligence and the Law” (Ashgate, 2005) beginning on pg 132.

On the Omagh bombing

Omagh bombing: European court dismisses Real IRA men's claim BBC News 29 September 2016

In its decision in the case of McKevitt and Campbell v. the United Kingdom (application no. 61474/12 and no.62780/12) the European Court of Human Rights unanimously declared the applications inadmissible. See further here:

BBC News, Omagh bombing: Timeline of legal cases, 1 March 2016

Further reading

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About the blog: The Private Law Theory blog is an updater and point of contact for those working in the area of Private Law Theory.

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