The Shadow Justice Secretary, Sadiq Khan, has labelled the Social Action, Responsibility and Heroism Bill (SARAH Bill) as the most embarrassing and pathetic piece of legislation ever to be proposed by the MoJ.
As the Bill’s second reading was opened in the House of Commons yesterday, Mr Khan became the latest MP to lay into it. He accused the Justice Secretary Chris Grayling of providing no hard facts, proof or evidence for the need for the bill.
He said: “The government are seeking to legislate to deal with how we perceive risk, real or otherwise. If he was serious, the justice secretary would tackle the misconceptions about the risk of being sued, but that is a trickier task that he has chosen to duck.”
SARAH Bill to deter spurious claims?
Mr Grayling has claimed that the SARAH Bill is designed to deter spurious claims and to send a message to the courts that they want them to focus on ensuring that they are on the side of the person in the right.
He said: “Of course, where the wrong thing has been done, the force of the law is there to provide an appropriate remedy. However, all too often cases are brought that I think frankly should not be brought.”
Mr Khan was not the only one who would criticise the bill. He received support from the former Conservative Solicitor-General, Edward Garnier MP.
Talking about the Bill he said: “The Bill is more like an early-day motion than a proper statute. I say that because, as the Secretary of State admitted, it is predominantly there to send out a message…”
“We should legislate not to send out signals or messages, but to make good black-letter law, so that the courts know what the law is and can apply it, and so that the legal professions know what it is and can advise the public on it.”
“I have a horrible suspicion that if the Bill becomes an Act as it is currently drafted, it will be the subject of derision and confusion, or that even if that does not happen, it will fall into disuse.”
Grayling obsessed with myth of compensation culture
Last week when showing his support for APIL President John Spencer’s criticism of the Bill, Scott Rees & Co Managing Partner, Royston Smith, described Chris Grayling as obsessed with the myth of a Compensation Culture. He also expressed his concerns over the uncertainty the Bill would bring about.
It would certainly seem that this is a view widely shared across the profession and there will no doubt be increasing pressure to see this proposal thrown out.