Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Legal Threats make Bad Samaritans

When I took driving lessons I received the advice that if I were ever in an accident I should never say sorry as this implied guilt and would count against me. It would not matter if I were guilty or innocent, nor would it matter if I were only sorry for the hardship that this accident would cause to anyone involved in that accident.

I have also heard stories about care professionals walking past situations in which their caring skills may have been useful. Their fear is that if anything went wrong then they could be sued because of the skills which they possess. I could give further scenarios in which legal implications have stifled care which has led to a sort of Good Samaritan in reverse.

You may have guessed that I am leading up to the Rennard story which I wrote about at Nobody's Perfect. Since then Lord Rennard's membership has been suspended and he is threatening legal action. One of his accusers and maybe more, are threatening legal action if things don't go their way but this would "depend on the circumstances".

Essentially this problem has arisen because there is some legal advice that is telling Chris Rennard that he should apologise, and there is other legal advice saying that he shouldn't. The answer is really quite clear. There should be an apology because perceived sexual harassment deserves an apology, but of course this apology should not be offered if it were to trigger new investigations and cause further sanctions.

I can't help feeling that this whole situation could be resolved if the lawyers were not involved.  These developments are not just unfortunate for the Liberal Democrats, they are also unfortunate for society in general. Good work is stifled by a legal system that tells us to be a bad Samaritan. It seems that we should not put ourselves at risk because there will be lawyers who will find fault with what we have done. 

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