Earlier in the week we watched a Channel 4 documentary. Yes, I know that’s very Guardian-reader, but it raised some serious issues – in short that Elfansafety has long ago gotten out of control and that this is, in part, driven by unscrupulous no-win-no-fee lawyers.
Hardly a week will pass without the Mail or Express, in their impeccably imbalanced way, screaming to the rooftops about some loony local Council banning egg and spoon races or some such earth shattering trivia. But you have to ask how much of that is driven by the threat of litigation.
A case in point in the documentary showed a Council officer surveying a primary school playing field because one of the muvvahs had fallen over during the Mum’s race, broken her ankle and was holding the school responsible. Shit happens, dear. Live with it. Another was a pensioner who’d fallen over a paving slab that was about an inch out of alignment. Question – was he actually looking where he was going or was he walking along like a tit in a trance as so many seem to do these days? (My particular bête noir being the pedestrian texter!) Both those claims failed although the woman who got clobbered by a falling branch did get some compo and the ratepayers of Clapham now have to fork out for the local Council to employ people to survey thousands of trees. Issac Newton could have explained the risks. I give up!
Mr and Mrs Fugly, who’s little precious fell over and stubbed his toe in the playground trotted out the usual banality “It’s not about the money.” Well, if that were true you’d have settled for an apology and an undertaking to repair the alleged fault. So, because solicitors are only allowed to act on instructions, why have you told them to go after some dosh? One word – greed.
It is clear that many of the schools, Councils, companies, etc. would rather just cough up than waste even more money fighting the issue in Court, i.e. “here’s some money, now just pi$$ off and leave us alone”. And with a pragmatic view you can understand why they do this.
I’m not against pursuing compensation where there is genuine negligence, but the net effect of all this litigation is eventually to absolve the individual of any responsibility for their own actions. Taken to it’s logical extreme the bastards won’t be satisfied until the planet is covered to a depth of three metres in cotton wool balls, but even then there’d be some vampire with LL.B after his name suing because a mouth-breather inhaled one.