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Liberate small charities, voluntary groups and individuals

Comment 2nd August 2010

The number and source of laws and regulations constraining the actions of individuals and voluntary groups in carrying out community and civic activities are so extensive that their repeal would be slow and tortuous. In the meantime it is becoming impossible to get people to volunteer because of the hoops they have to jump through, and the threats of criminal and civil action if they persevere; from statutes on discrimination, health and safety, protection of the vulnerable, etc and from litigation in respect of employees, clients, etc seeking compensation and damages for perceived injury.

The principle must be re-established in law that a person giving their time and skills freely for the good of the community should be protected from criminal and civil action, provided only that they have acted in good faith and without wilful negligence.

This would make it more difficult to justify legal action against volunteers, freeing them from the anxiety that by attempting to benefit others they would become victims of the legal minefield which professional and commercial agents now navigate, but without any of the resources the latter can call upon in mitigation.

Why does this matter?

If we want to see a revival in community action, in neighbourly concern, the intrusion of the legal and the judicial into all aspects of life must be resisted, and only by a counteractive law will such liberation be achieved. Volunteering is dying under the weight of legislation designed by and for large organisations and professional institutions, but inappropriate and intolerable to the ordinary citizen who wishes to freely associate with other individuals for their benefit.

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