Friday, November 30, 2007

Irish Law Reform Commission on Liability of Good Samaritans

This week, the Law Reform Commission of Ireland published its Consultation Paper on the Civil Liability of 'Good Samaritans' and Volunteers.

The Paper is in response to a request from Ireland's Attorney General after a parliamentary debate in late 2005.

The Attorney General asked the Commission to consider whether the law should impose a positive duty on citizens, members of the caring professions or members of the national police or the Defence Forces (when not engaged in duties in the course of their employment) to help injured people.

The Commission has provisionally recommended that there "should be no reform of the law to impose a duty on citizens in general, or any particular group of citizens, to intervene for the purpose of assisting an injured person or a person who is at risk of such an injury" (Page 127).

The Commission concluded that it was unlikely that any such duty would promote volunteering or active citizenship: indeed, the groups consulted by the Commission indicated that imposing any such duty might have the opposite effect.

The Commission has also provisionally recommended that, to deal with any anxiety on the part of those who decide to be Good Samaritans or who volunteer in society, the relevant rules should be put in a statutory form.

The proposed law would provide for a full defence against a civil liability claim for Good Samaritans and voluntary rescuers, unless there is gross negligence, that is, negligence falling far below the standard to be expected in the circumstances, in line with similar laws in place in many countries.

The consultation paper has a section on "Good Samaritan Statutes in Other Jurisdictions" starting on p. 109. It looks in particular at Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:24 pm

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