[Pounds Sterling]500 Payout to a Teacher Cost [Pounds Sterling]60,000 in Legal Fees
Byline: Jason Groves Political Correspondent
EDUCATION bosses ordered to pay [pounds sterling]500 to a teacher injured while restraining a pupil were landed with a legal bill of more than [pounds sterling]60,000 for that single case.
This example is one of the most disturbing discovered as a Daily Mail investigation revealed a growing 'compensation culture' in the classroom.
Freedom of Information requests disclose that councils across England are being bombarded with claims from teachers, often for trivial injuries.
But, in many cases, the compensation payments are dwarfed by the legal fees run up by solicitors.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that teachers, often backed by their unions, are taking on no-win, no-fee lawyers to bring even the most speculative claims.
Last night ministers were urged to clamp down on the practice amid warnings it was having a 'chilling effect' on schools and other public services.
Our survey suggested that councils paid out an estimated [pounds sterling]6.7million as a result of claims by teachers last year
But for every pound paid as compensation, another [pounds sterling]1.25 went on lawyers and legal fees.
In one of the worst cases, North Lincolnshire Council paid [pounds sterling]500 compensation to the teacher hurt restraining a pupil, But the authority also had to pay a bill for costs of [pounds sterling]61,464.
A spokesman said fighting the claim in court had led to a big drop in the payout because of 'contributory negligence' but acknowledged it had resulted in much higher legal bills.
In another case, Wirral Council, Merseyside, paid [pounds sterling]2,000 to a member of school staff who stubbed their toe on a box but then faced a bill for costs of [pounds sterling]14,300.
Walsall Council in the West Midlands paid [pounds sterling]1,500 to a teacher who suffered a strain falling over at school but had to pay [pounds sterling]14,888 in costs linked to the claim.
In Southend-on-Sea, Essex, the council sanctioned a [pounds sterling]13,500 payout to a teacher who was assaulted by a special needs pupil yet the bill for legal costs was [pounds sterling]75,800.
In Dorset, a school employee was awarded [pounds sterling]1,650 after slipping on posters left on the floor. Legal costs totalled [pounds sterling]11,000.
In March, Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke unveiled proposals to reform the no-win, no-fee system.
But last night, Tory MP Philip Davies said ministers may have to go further.
'This is becoming a massive problem,' said Mr Davies. 'Taxpayers' money we can ill afford is being diverted from frontline services to fund a growing army of lawyers.
'The Government has to find a way of scaling back this compensation culture. That will require clamping down on the activities of no-win, no-fee lawyers. …