workmen's compensation insurance

Workmen's Compensation Act 1897

Workmen's Compensation Act 1897 was a United Kingdom Act of Parliament which dealt with the right of working people for compensation for personal injury.

A 'workman' was defined as,

"any person who is engaged in an employment to which this Act applies, whether by way of manual labour or otherwise.

The employments to which the Act applied were stated to be railways, mining and quarrying, factory work and laundry work.

However the courts were hostile to the idea of employers having a duty to pay compensation for their injured employees. They took a restrictive interpretation in Simpson v. Ebbw Vale Steel, Iron & Coal Co. [1905] 1 KB 453. A widow claimed for the death of a colliery manager who had been killed in an underground accident. Lord Collins MR held that her dead husband was outside the Act's scope, because though the act extended to non-manual workers the victim "must still be a workman". He said the Act

"presupposes a position of dependence; it treats the class of workmen as being in a sens inopes consilii, and the Legislature does for them what they cannot do for themselves: it gives them a sort of State insurance, it being assumed that they are either not sufficiently intelligent or not sufficiently in funds to insure themselves. In no sense can such a principle extend to those who are earning good salaries."[1905] 1 KB 453, 458

See also



  • Simon Deakin, 'The historical process of wage formation', in Linda Clarke et al, The Dynamics of Wage Relations in the New Europe (2000) pp.38-9
  • Simon Deakin, 'Welfare State and Contract of Employment', in Noel Whiteside et al, Governance, Industry and Labour Markets in Britain and France (19980 pp.212 ff.

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