Leading article: Know your rights

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The Independent Online

To rectify matters, Lord Falconer intends to "put the brakes on the cowboy claims companies". Those providing unauthorised claims management services will be jailed. And judges will be told to bear in mind the "wider social value" of activities such as school trips when they consider negligence claims.

Yet the whole concept of a "compensation culture" is spurious. It is true that there are occasionally unreasonable claims - most of which are seized upon with glee by the right-wing press. And it is true that there are firms that can be accurately described as "ambulance chasers". But, overall, personal injury claims have actually been dropping in recent years. Total UK compensation bills are rising, not because of a rise in the number of claims, but thanks to higher legal fees and medical bills.

The appearance of "no win, no fee" legal services has, on the whole, been a positive development. Those who rail against Britain's "compensation culture" are - in effect - advocating a return to an acquiescent age when people did not know their rights.

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