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be submitted within six months after the happening of the accident giving rise thereto, or within six months after the death caused by such accident.
Claims not settled by agreement may be settled by arbitration by a committee representing the employer and his workmen, if there be such committee and the parties agree to go before it; or by an arbitrator agreed on by the parties; or by the judge of the county court, in default of agreement. In deciding questions as to the liability of the employer to pay compensation, including the question as to whether the claimant is within the classes covered by the law, also as to the amount or duration of the compensation, the county court judge is acting as an arbitrator and not as a judge. Appeals are allowed on questions of law from a committee or arbitrator to the county court judge and from the latter to the court of appeal and ultimately to the House of Lords. No appeal is allowed from any decision of a question of fact. In the practical working out of the act of 1897 the great bulk of arbitrations came before the county court judges as arbitrators, and as the present law is not considerably different in respect of these provisions, there is little room to doubt that procedure under it will be the same as under the earlier act.
STATISTICS OF OPERATIONS.
A summary of accidents causing incapacity to employees included under certified schemes of compensation was furnished the departmental committee of 1903 by the registrar of friendly societies, covering the first five years of the operation of the compensation act, from which it appears that, in the establishments covered by these schemes, the total number of cases of incapacity for the period was 93,995, of which 48,432, or 51.53 per cent, were cases in which the incapacity continued for not more than two weeks. The total duration of incapacity was 369,985 weeks, of which 66,863 weeks were for persons who were incapacitated for two weeks or less, being 18.07 per cent of the whole time. The total benefits paid for incapacity during the period were £235,338 ($1,145,272), the amount paid for incapacity lasting two weeks or less being £40,354 ($196,383), or 17.15 per cent of the whole amount. These data are only suggestive, however, since the provisions of the schemes whose workings they represent are not identical with the provisions of the compensation act of 1906. A report was submitted to this committee, showing the experience of a large firm of shipbuilders, first, for a term of five years under the provisions of an establishment fund, to which the men contributed and which they were permitted to draw upon for minor alleged disabilities; and, second, for a period of five years under the compensation act of 1897, under which no compensation was available for the first two weeks of any injury. The standard for reporting accidents was the same for both periods, the difference in the number of accidents reported being attributed to the attitude of the men themselves, who would stay away for slight injuries when compensation was immediately available, but who preferred not to report such injuries when the loss of wages was involved.
The table shows the average number of employees for each year, the number of accidents reported and the percentage such number is of the average number of employees, and the number of accidents compensated for during each year of the two periods compared with the average number of employees. NUMBER OF ACCIDENTS REPORTED AND ACCIDENTS COMPENSATED COMPARED WITH AVERAGE NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES, UNDER LOCAL COMPENSATION FUND, 1893 TO 1897, AND UNDER WORKMEN'S COMPENSATION ACT, 1899 TO 1903, AT WORKS OF ARMSTRONG, WHITWORTH & CO., SHIPBUILDERS. (Source: Report of Departmental Committee Appointed to Inquire into the Law Relating to Compensa
tion for Injuries to Workmen, 1904.)
The showing for the first period is indicative of an increasing disposition on the part of the workmen to avail themselves of the liberal provisions of the local fund not only in the matter of declaring accidents, but also in that of securing compensation. No report is given for the year 1898, during which both methods of compensation were used; but the change from a report of 14.68 per cent of accidents in 1897 to one of but 3.38 per cent in 1899 is striking. It is not possible, of course, from the data given, to determine what part of the accidents not compensated for under the act caused disability for more than one week and not more than two, but it is clear that the percentage of accidents compensated for during the second period, even with the great falling off in the number reported, is much smaller in proportion to the number reported than during the first period.
Since the new law came into operation only on July 1, 1907, accounts of but a single year's operations are available to indicate the effect of the inclusion of the large additional number of employees embraced by it, and these data must be taken subject to the qualifications necessarily involved in the inauguration of a new law affecting large numbers of unlisted employers, who are, furthermore, unfamiliar with their duties under the act. Statistics for the years 1899 to 1908 of proceedings under the compensation acts of 1897 and 1900 and of 1906, show the number of cases coming for arbitration before the county courts, and the number of cases in which memoranda recording agreements or awards by committees or private arbitrators were registered in the county courts. In regard to the latter point it may be said that the data for the two acts are not fairly comparable, as the new law contains more effective provisions for securing registration than the old. It should be borne in mind tlfat of the cases settled under the old act in 1907 some were for accidents occurring in 1906, while of the accidents occurring after the coming into operation of the new law a number would give rise to claims whose adjustment would be made during the first half of the following year, so that the figures cover rather more than a half year's operation of the old law and somewhat less than a half year for the new. Data for the different acts are presented separately for 1907 and 1908.
The following table shows the number of cases dealt with in England and Wales by county court judges and county court arbitrators, the number settled by the acceptance of money paid into court, and the number withdrawn or otherwise disposed of after having been presented in the courts. It also shows the number of memoranda of agreements and informal arbitrations registered and the number of actions brought under the employers' liability law. NUMBER OF CASES UNDER COMPENSATION ACTS AND EMPLOYERS' LIABILITY ACT
IN ENGLAND AND WALES, 1899 TO 1908. (Source: Statistics of Proceedings under the Workmen's Compensation Acts and the Employers' Liability
Act, 1899 to 1908.]
a Compensation data are for the acts of 1897 and 1900. b. Compensation data are for the act of 1906, in effect last six months of the year. c Compensation data are for the act of 1906. d Compensation data are for cases holding over under acts of 1897 and 1900.
The data given above can not be summarized as a showing of the number of claims adjusted in England and Wales under the compensation acts, inasmuch as the provisions of the older laws with regard to the reporting or registration of memoranda of settlements made outside of courts were hardly more than permissive, and the statement is repeatedly made in the reports on the operation of these laws that the number of memoranda registered is only a small proportion of the agreements under the acts. The act of 1906 includes much stronger provisions on the subject of registration, and it is due in part to this fact, no doubt, that the greatly increased number of registrations in 1908 must be attributed. It is impossible to distinguish between this as a cause, however, and the effect of the much wider scope of the new law. The large increase in the number of cases taken into court may be charged practically entirely to the latter cause.
Of the 835 claims reported in 1907 as taken into court under the act of 1906 but 3 were based on incapacity due to industrial disease, the remainder being cases of accident in the ordinary sense of that term. In 1908 the number of cases brought into court chargeable to industrial disease under this act was 96, and of those settled out of court, memoranda of which were registered in court, 108.
The departmental committee of 1903, appointed to inquire into the working of the compensation acts, reports evidence of secretaries, etc., of trade unions, from which it appears that in the organized trades the matter of adjusting claims under the acts is practically attended to by union officials, few cases going into court. Statements were made as to the per cent of cases settled outside of court, these ranging from 70 to 95, and even to 98.5 per cent. Others show more exactly for specific periods, as 17 cases taken into court out of a total of 1,605; 1 arbitration out of 252 claims; 2 claims taken into court out of 300 claims. Where there is no organization, the claim is more likely to fall into the hands of a solicitor, by whom the case may be taken into court under the liability law with the workings of which he is more familiar, with a result that is quite generally less favorable to the injured party than proceedings under the compensation act would have secured.
While some of these data are of the nature of estimates, they demonstrate the fact that the law is generally accepted by both parties as affording a fairly explicit and satisfactory means of adjusting the matter of compensation for injuries without resort to court proceedings of any sort; and, taken in connection with the number reported as having been brought to the attention of the courts, they give some indication as to the wide and frequent application of the law to cases of industrial accident. As to the matter of registering
awards made outside of courts, it may be added that it is important as being a condition precedent to the enforcement of the award by legal process, and it is observable that there is a steady and rapid increase in the number of registrations from year to year. Of the 9,349 cases reported as settled outside of court in 1907, 9,074 were settled by agreement, 273 by committee, and 2 by an agreed arbitrator. In 1908 the number settled otherwise than by agreement was negligible, being but 164 by committee and 2 by arbitrators, 20,414 of the 20,580 cases being settled by the parties themselves.
The data as to court proceedings are presented as covering the respective fields, and the prominent feature with reference to cases under the compensation acts is the fact that the great majority of arbitrations is effected by the county judges, while as to cases brought under the employers' liability act of 1880 a perceptible falling off is to be noted, which becomes all the more marked if a comparison is made between the number of cases for 1897 and 1898, before the compensation act came into operation (688 and 681, respectively), with the number of cases in 1907, during six months of which the more inclusive compensation act was in effect, and in 1908, during the whole of which this act controlled.
The fact that there is a liberty of choice given in the matter of remedies opens up opportunities for taking advantage of the provisions of the employers' liability law to harass employers with the threat of action involving the expenses of defense, as is shown by the report of the departmental committee of 1903. According to this report, the provision that allows defeated suitors under the liability law to ask for an award under the compensation act is frequently availed of, and the costs are rarely charged against such award, though the law places it in the hands of the court to make such a charge; and where the employer is entirely successful in resisting the action and the claim as well, costs are never recovered. The evidence submitted to this commission was also to the effect that the natural burden of such a situation is increased by the activity of a class of attorneys who make it their business to instigate suits of this sort on a speculative basis, and that, instead of seeking adjudication in the less expensive courts, the suit is carried (particularly in Scotland, where the law easily permits the practice) into those where the expense is greater, with the result that employers frequently yield to exorbitant demands rather than face the high costs to which they would be put, whether they won or lost. The actual number of cases in which action is brought under the liability law is, however, very small as compared with the number of cases arising under the compensation law.
The committee above named recommended a change in the law of 1897 by granting employers a right to secure a stay of proceedings, either begun or threatened under the liability act, in cases where it