The Social Action, Responsibility and Heroism Bill (SARAH) received Royal Assent on 12 February. The criticism noted below from the Joint Human Rights Committee, of the Government’s approach is particularly striking.
The Bill has received mixed reviews – one legal commentator’s criticism of it following a debate in November 2014 was headlined “SARAH gets a stuffing in the Lords”. Freed from the limitations of collective responsibility, former Attorney General Dominic Grieve QC MP has categorised it as “utter tosh”.
The Social Action, Responsibility and Heroism (SARAH) Bill stems from the Government’s concerns that people are deterred from taking part in voluntary activities or acting as Good Samaritans in time of an emergency because of the fear that in doing so they may expose themselves to being held liable if something goes wrong.
The Act contains just five short clauses which set out to provide a strong signal to addressing the perceived reluctance of some people from volunteering, helping others, and from intervening in an emergency because of the fear of being sued.
In addition, The Act states that the court must have regard to the status of the individual acting for the benefit of society and whether a ‘generally’ responsible approach was taken towards protecting the safety of others.
About the Author
Alistair Kinley is BLM’s Director of Policy & Government Affairs.
Alistair is responsible for BLM’s engagement with government departments and regulators on policy and public affairs issues and consultations affecting the firm and its customers. He coordinated BLM’s market-facing activities in connection with the Insurance Act 2015 and the consultations which preceded its publication and introduction in Parliament.
He is a member of the Civil Justice Council (CJC), a regular speaker and experienced commentator on legal and procedural reforms and was a contributing editor to the Law Society’s Litigation Funding Handbook (September 2014).