Sorry seems to be the hardest word

There has been much coverage over the last few days about which level of authority should shoulder blame for the death of Baby P.

Sharon Shoesmith, chair of Haringey’s Local Safeguarding Children Board, refused to say sorry the other day, while Ed Balls yesterday said sorry, weakening that apology immediately by speculating that everyone in Haringey and everyone across the country was sorry.

People often do everything they can to avoid the S word in such situations because of the legal responsibility that goes with it. (Just as I’ve heard that apologies given immediately after a car accident can weaken one’s position during any ensuing litigation.)

So should, and indeed can, the legal implications of the S word be removed to allow people to apologise sincerely without affecting any legal position thereafter? Or would the removal of this link itself devalue the apology?

By Dan on 14 November, 2008 · Posted in General, Government

3 Comments | Post Comment

Andy says:

Dan – for your edification, in saying sorry you are effectively saying ‘that was my fault’ for legal purposes. Further, most insurance policies expressly provide that an insured cannot admit liability without the insurer’s consent. So if you apologise you are thereby risking breaching the terms of your insurance cover. It leaves insurers no ‘wiggle room’ in negotiations so that’s why they don’t want you to do it.

When my former boss pranged someone’s car, he would always hold up his hands and say “well, what can I say?”, which is a perfect, non-insurance-cover-breaching response.

Not much use if you’ve got the Daily Mail on your doorstep, but it should assist in most everyday situations.

Invoice to follow.


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