Threat of further restrictions to workers’ access to use the law

On Saturday I attended a meeting of Unison safety reps, where I’d been asked to speak about my experiences as a UCU rep fighting issues of workload, bullying and stress. One of the speakers was Phil Liptrot from Thompsons solicitors. He talked about the government’s plans to make it even harder for injured workers to claim for compensation. There is now a campaign underway, including a petition. The following text summarises Phil’s talk and gives a link to the petition, which needs many more signatures than it currently has. Please sign and circulate to others.


David Hardman


Another attack on access to justice for workers injured at work

This would exclude most workers injured by work from making any claim for compensation to which they are entitled as they would have to pay their own legal costs.It would let negligent employers off the hook, and reduce and incentive on them to make their workplaces safer and healthier.

Small Claims Limit – Phi Liptrot from Thompsons Solicitors spoke about the major campaign that has been launched to challenge the Government’s plan to increase the small claims limit.

He said that the proposed change will prevent 80% of injured workers from instructing a lawyer to enable them to get compensation for workplace injuries and the consequence is that the employer will be able to make their workplaces even more dangerous.  At the moment there is a £1, 000 limit.  Phil explained that claims are in two parts: general damages which include pain and suffering and special damages which include financial loss like loss of wages etc.

At the moment if the general damages  are greater than £1,000 then the individual is able to claim their  lawyer fees back from the other side.  PL also reported that 99% of cases are greater than £1, 000.  The Government proposal is to increase the limit to £5,000.  80% of all cases are less than £5,000 and will result in individuals not getting any compensation when they are injured by their job.  Even where the total claim would be much greater than £5,000 because of things like loss of wages, they still won’t be able to claim because their general damages are  below the £5,000 threshold.  General damages are determined from  a prescribed list of financial compensation for a particular condition/injury.  Individuals will have to make a decision to pay up front (if they can afford to) and then pay the lawyer out of the total if they are successful.  It means that some of these ‘fat cat’ insurers will get even ‘fatter’ at the expense of worker’s health and safety.  It was also reported that some asbestosis claims may fall into this category.

Please circulate this information and communicate it widely amongst trade union contacts.

Please encourage as many people as possible to

  • sign the online petition at  :  100,000 signatures are needed on the petition, to initiate a debate in the House of Commons, so it was agreed to support this. There are only about 16,000 signatures. There are 6 million TU Members……mmm
  • Write to MPs, urging them to oppose the changes.
  • follow @FeedingFatCats on twitter and to find out more at