Letter: Sue the one who can pay

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The Independent Online
Sir: Don't kill off all the "ambulance-chasing lawyers" just yet (Polly Toynbee; "Litigation is the wrong medicine", and Yvette Cooper; "Money: miracle cure of the Nineties," 12 June)

Any tort law student worth his salt will tell you that the key issue in accident compensation is not who is to blame, but who can pay. Money is exactly what Christina O'Sullivan is going to need to care for a child with spina bifida, and she would never get near that same amount of money from the social security system and the NHS. It is fortunate that Ms O'Sullivan had a solvent defendant to sue.

Litigation is an imperfect remedy, available only to those who can establish fault, and as seen by the limited class of Hillsborough victims awarded compensation by the court - police officers, but not victims' families - it is sometimes unfair and unpredictable. But in the absence of a comprehensive, state-run, accident compensation system for all, at least a lucky few have recourse to more adequate compensation through litigation.


Lecturer in Law

Centre for Legal Studies

University of Sussex

Falmer, East Sussex