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Should the law change to make it easier for organisations to apologise?

Discover the potential impact of updated laws on sincere apologies from organisations to wronged individuals, as highlighted in a new government consultation. Despite the Compensation Act of 2006 aiming to facilitate apologies without admission of liability, reluctance persists among businesses, leaving many victims without closure. Ministers are exploring refinements, prompted by recommendations from the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, aiming to address concerns while encouraging accountability. The consultation, open until June 3, 2024.

The law could be updated to make it easier for organisations to offer sincere apologies to those who have been wronged following the launch of a government consultation.

The Compensation Act, which became law in 2006, made it easier for public institutions, private companies and their employees to apologise, without admitting liability in civil proceedings.

Yet almost 20 years on, there is little evidence this has encouraged businesses to use apologies more as form of reparation – leaving many victims without proper closure and a sense they are unable to move on with their lives.

Often, organisations and individuals remain reluctant to apologise because of concerns it may be interpreted by the aggrieved party, or insurers, as an admission of fault.

Ministers are also considering how best to refine current laws following a recommendation from the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) that apologies could and should be offered by employers for the actions of current or former employees – known as vicarious liability. This would encourage the likes of schools, care facilities or hospitals to offer apologies for abuse carried out by an individual at these institutions.

The consultation proposals do not force those defending a claim to offer an apology. It also reserves the rights of either party to pursue further legal action even when an apology has or has not been offered.

The consultation will run for 8 weeks and close on 3 June 2024.

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