A final amendment has been made to the Social Action, Responsibility and Heroism (SARAH) Bill, leaving the path open for it to become law.
During its third reading on 6 January, the House of Lords approved a slight change to the wording of the Bill, which replaced the word “generally” in Clause 3 with “predominantly”. The Bill sets out various factors that the court “must have regard to” in determining the steps a defendant was required to take to meet a standard of care in claims for negligence or breach of statutory duty. The Clause 3 change means that courts must take account of context when considering claims of negligence.
Several Lords continued to criticise the Bill during the reading, with Lord Pannick calling it the “most ridiculous piece of legislation approved by Parliament in a very long time”.
Referring to justice minister Lord Faulks, he said: “When the noble Lord was appointed to his position on the Front Bench, he would no doubt have looked forward to debating important issues of law and justice, and I doubt that he expected that he would be the straight man in Mr Grayling’s comedy routine, requiring courts to consider whether a defendant has acted heroically.
“Well, the Minister has heroically dived into the lake created by Mr Grayling’s conference speech. He has rescued this pitiful creature of a Bill—and it is a pitiful creature—and has emerged from the lake with his hair still dry and his suit entirely uncrumpled, he is not even out of breath and he has done it all with a straight face.
“If I may say so, that is deeply impressive, which is more than can be said for this Bill. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.”
The Bill has now returned to the Commons for consideration of Lords’ changes.