Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill — New Clause 14 — Civil Claims In Health and Safety Cases Only On Basis of Negligence — 16 Oct 2012 at 15:00

The majority of MPs voted to only permit civil actions in relation to claimed health and safety breaches on the basis that the employer has been negligent, and not for example, on the basis of technical breaches of a law.

MPs were considering the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill[1]. The proposed new clause supported my the majority of MPs in this vote was New Clause 14, titled: Civil liability for breach of health and safety duties. The clause contained amendments to the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 in order to provide that there should be no civil right of action for breach of a duty imposed by certain health and safety legislation, other than where such a right is specifically provided for.

During the debate Matthew Hancock MP (West Suffolk, Conservative) explained the intent of the new clause saying[4]:

  • The fear of being sued drives businesses to exceed what is required by the criminal law, diverting them from focusing on sensible preventive health and safety management and resulting in unnecessary costs and burdens.


  • Employers can, for example, be held liable for damages when an injury is caused by equipment failure, even when a rigorous examination would not have revealed the defect. The new clause is designed to address that and other unfair consequences of the existing health and safety system.

Mr Hancock explained the mechanism by which the new clause would take effect saying[5]:

  • Civil claims for personal injury can be brought by two routes: a breach of the common-law duty of care, in which case negligence has to be proved, or a breach of statutory duty, in which case the failure to meet the particular legal standard alleged to have been breached has to be proved. The new clause will amend the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 to remove the right to bring civil claims for breach of a statutory duty contained in certain health and safety legislation.

and summarised its impact[6]:

  • In future, proof of negligence will be required to bring a case. It will be possible to bring a civil action for a breach of common-law duty of care only on the basis that the employer has been negligent.


Debate in Parliament | Source |

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Party Summary

Votes by party, red entries are votes against the majority for that party.

What is Tell? '+1 tell' means that in addition one member of that party was a teller for that division lobby.

What are Boths? An MP can vote both aye and no in the same division. The boths page explains this.

What is Turnout? This is measured against the total membership of the party at the time of the vote.

PartyMajority (Aye)Minority (No)BothTurnout
Con250 (+1 tell) 0082.3%
DUP2 2050.0%
Green0 10100.0%
Independent0 10100.0%
Lab0 201 (+2 tell)079.6%
LDem43 (+1 tell) 0077.2%
PC0 30100.0%
SDLP0 2066.7%
SNP0 5083.3%
Total:295 215080.4%

Rebel Voters - sorted by party

MPs for which their vote in this division differed from the majority vote of their party. You can see all votes in this division, or every eligible MP who could have voted in this division

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no rebellions

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