Social Action, Responsibility and Heroism Bill: Lords third reading

07 January 2015

The Social Action, Responsibility and Heroism Bill had its third reading, a final chance to 'tidy up' the bill and make changes, in the Lords on Tuesday 6 January.

Members of the Lords considered an amendment to make it clear that courts must take account of context when considering claims of negligence.

The bill now returns to the Commons for consideration of Lords' changes.

Lords report stage: Monday 15 December

Members of the Lords first considered whether a proposal for judges to decide whether individuals were acting heroically or for the benefit of society should remain in the bill. An amendment to remove the proposal went to a vote, with 77 voting in favour and 222 against, so the change was not made.

The second vote concerned a section of the bill that urges judges to consider whether defendants have been ‘generally responsible’. The clause remained after members voted 190 in favour and 238 against its removal.

The bill now moves to third reading, a final chance to 'tidy up' and make changes. It is scheduled for Tuesday 6 January 2015.

Lords committee stage: Tuesday 18 November

Members of the Lords asked whether the bill would deter people thinking of committing heroic acts, by adding unnecessary levels of complexity. They also looked at how heroism should be defined, and at the differences between this bill and the Compensation Act 2006.

Lords second reading: Tuesday 4 November

Justice minister, Lord Faulks (Conservative), began the debate, introducing the key principles of the bill, 'to provide valuable reassurance to those who act responsibly in the course of an activity, heroically or more generally for the benefit of society.'

A proposal that the bill be denied a second reading on the basis that it is 'unnecessary' was discussed, but was not taken to a vote. Several members welcomed the bill, saying that society has become, over time, more risk averse and nervous of the development of a 'compensation culture'.

Social Action, Responsibility and Heroism Bill summary

It was announced in the Queen’s Speech on 4 June 2014 that a bill would be brought forward 'to provide that where a person acts heroically, responsibly or for the benefit of others, this will be taken into account by the courts'. The Social Responsibility, Action and Heroism Bill sets out various factors that the court 'must have regard to' in determining the steps a defendant was required to take to meet a standard of care in claims for negligence or breach of statutory duty.

Further information

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