The government is to introduce legislation designed to protect volunteers and small businesses from negligence claims in a move to further ‘tackle the growth of compensation culture’.

Legislation will be brought in next year to provide volunteers with greater protection from negligence claims when acting in ‘the common good’; and to protect responsible small-business owners against claims from employees, the justice secretary, Chris Grayling, revealed today.

In a post on the Conservative Home website Grayling dubbed the proposed legislation the ‘Social Action, Responsibility and Heroism Bill’.

He wrote: ‘The best way to describe the proposed bill is that it will serve as a signpost from parliament to the courts. It will set out very simple protections for those people who act in the interests of society, responsibly or heroically.’

If passed, the new law would require courts to take into account the context of an incident if a negligence case is brought.

They would have to:

  • Give weight to people who were doing a good deed like volunteering, running an event or trip, or helping out by clearing snow;
  • Ensure the court gives consideration to the fact people may have taken care when organising an activity but an accident has happened;
  • Consider if the person was acting in emergency and stepped in to help someone in danger but something went wrong.

The Ministry of Justice said the changes could help cut insurance premiums by reducing payouts.