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Apology Legislation

From a story in the Seattle Times:

Sorry may soon no longer be so hard to say in British Columbia.

The provincial government on Tuesday became the first in Canada to propose legislation that would allow people and organizations to apologize without risking liability for damages or other penalties. Under the measure, evidence of an apology would not be admissible in legal proceedings...

"The Apology Act is designed to promote the early and mutually beneficial resolution of disputes by allowing parties to express honest regret or remorse," [provincial Attorney General Wallace T.] Oppal said...

"It allows people to do what is natural, which is to say 'sorry' and get on with things," [Vancouver Liberal legislator Lorne] Mayencourt said, adding that similar laws have significantly reduced liability litigation in Australia and California. "You can't solve problems between two people without an apology."

What an excellent idea.

Sorry Works! is an organization promoting apology legislation, but with a focus on medical malpractice. If sorry works for doctors, shouldn't it work for the rest of the society as well? Shouldn't anyone be able to apologize without risking liability? In fact, some organizations already are, even without broad apology legislation:

In 2002 the National Law Journal reported that Toro, the lawnmower manufacturer, had adopted a revolutionary policy. After an accident was reported to the company, a product integrity specialist, not a lawyer, made contact with the injured party, expressed the company's condolences, and initiated an investigation to discover the cause of the accident. An engineer went with the product integrity specialist to look at the equipment that caused the injury, and where appropriate the company took steps to improve the equipment to prevent future injuries. In two-thirds of the cases, the product integrity specialist resolved the matter without legal intervention. Almost all remaining cases resolved in mediation. According to the article, Toro reported that for 1992 to 2000, with more than 900 product liability claims referred to the program, legal costs per claim (attorney fees and litigation expenses) fell 78 percent, from an average of $47,252 to $10,420. The average resolution amount for the period dropped 70 percent, from $68,368 for settlements and verdicts to $20,248.


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