Have your say on the Social Action, Responsibility and Heroism Bill

Have your say on Social Action, Heroism and Responsibility Bill
23 July 2014

Do you have relevant expertise and experience or a special interest in the Government’s Social Action, Responsibility and Heroism Bill?

If so, you can submit your views in writing to the House of Commons Public Bill Committee which is going to consider this Bill.

Social Action, Responsibility and Heroism Bill 2014-15

Aims of the Social Action, Responsibility and Heroism Bill

The Government has pointed to evidence which indicates that the fear of being sued may deter some people from volunteering, helping others, and from intervening in an emergency.

The Coalition’s Programme for Government (May 2010) stated that it would take a 'range of measures to encourage volunteering and involvement in social action'.

The Government intends that the Social Action, Responsibility and Heroism Bill will help to fulfil this commitment by reassuring volunteers (and others) that the courts will consider the context of their actions in the event that they are sued for negligence or breach of a statutory duty.

The Bill would require the court, when considering what steps the defendant should have taken in a specific case, to have regard to whether:

  • the alleged negligence or breach of statutory duty occurred when the defendant was acting for the benefit of society or any of its members;
  • in carrying out the activity in the course of which the negligence or breach of statutory duty occurred, the defendant had demonstrated a generally responsible approach towards protecting the safety or other interests of others;
  • the alleged negligence or breach of statutory duty occurred when the defendant was acting heroically by intervening in an emergency to assist an individual in danger and without regard to the defendant’s own safety or other interests.

The Bill would not change the existing overarching legal framework, or leave victims without protection, and the courts would still be able to find that a person had been negligent or in breach of a statutory duty in relevant circumstances. However, the Government has said that it would provide reassurance and send a strong signal to the courts.

Follow the progress of the Social Action, Responsibility and Heroism Bill

The Social Action, Responsibility and Heroism Bill was introduced into the House of Commons on 12 June 2014.

The second reading of the Bill took place on Wednesday 21 July, giving MPs their first opportunity to debate the main principles of the Bill.

The Bill has now been sent to the Public Bill Committee, where detailed examination of the Bill will take place.

The committee members have not yet been appointed.

Guidance on submitting written evidence

Deadline for written evidence submissions

The Public Bill Committee is now able to receive written evidence. The sooner you send in your submission, the more time the Committee will have to take it into consideration.

The Committee is expected to meet for the first time on Thursday 4 September; it will stop receiving written evidence at the end of the Committee stage on Tuesday 14 October 2014.

Please note: When the Public Bill Committee reports, it is no longer able to receive written evidence and it could report earlier than Tuesday 14 October 2014.

What should written evidence cover?

Your submission should address matters contained within the Bill and concentrate on issues where you have a special interest or expertise, and factual information of which you would like the Committee to be aware.

It is helpful if the submission includes a brief introduction about you or your organisation. The submission should not have been previously published or circulated elsewhere.

If you have any concerns about your submission, please contact the Scrutiny Unit (details below).

How should written evidence be submitted?

Your submission should be emailed to scrutiny@parliament.uk. Please note that submissions sent to the Government department in charge of the Bill will not be treated as evidence to the Public Bill Committee.

Submissions should be in the form of a Word document. A summary should be provided. Paragraphs should be numbered, but there should be no page numbering.

Essential statistics or further details can be added as annexes, which should also be numbered. To make publication easier, please avoid the use of coloured graphs, complex diagrams or pictures.

As a guideline, submissions should not exceed 3,000 words.

Please include in the covering email the name, address, telephone number and email address of the person responsible for the submission. The submission should be dated.

What will happen to my evidence?

The written evidence will be circulated to all Committee Members to inform their consideration of the Bill.

Most submissions will also be published on the internet as soon as possible after the Committee has started sitting.

The Scrutiny Unit can help with any queries about written evidence.

Scrutiny Unit contact details

Email: scrutiny@parliament.uk
Telephone: 020 7219 8387
Fax: 020 7219 8381
Address: Ian Hook
Senior Executive Officer
Scrutiny Unit, 7 Millbank
London SW1P 3JA

Further information

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