IN the late 70s, I was driving in Texas and saw a huge hoarding with the words: Jim Mansfield Law... “We’ll sue”.

I never believed in those days that British society would so embrace a lawyer-driven, ambulance-chasing culture, but the establishment made legal wall-to-wall daytime TV advertising by the legal profession backed up by, “Sir, we believe you had a car accident earlier this week?” “Uh no, I’m only 11 years old”. “Well surely someone in your family?” You know the script. I suppose it was inevitable.

I would argue that in addition to creating a raft of very wealthy law firms, these changes have created a secretive, colourless, more risk averse society which has consequences large and small.

Large: the NHS now pays out £1.6 billion annually in settlement of negligence claims and has a potential backlog which could cost £26.1 billion which is a quarter of the total annual spend on health.

These claims are mushrooming at 18 per cent annually. Why is this? The establishment (mostly made up of lawyers and ex-lawyers) could easily introduce tariff-based ‘no fault compensation’ but they don’t. No fault compensation would open up mistakes to proper scrutiny, which are sadly characterised today by a rush to cover up rather than to learn for future patients' benefit.

It would also mean £70 million in success fees paid to lawyers could stay in the health service, never mind the work to try to defend these no win, no fee claims.

Small: I was at the Link car boot sale the other day and all those small ‘Argos’ racks were absent with clothes strewn all over the floor, hung on hedges, sides of cars, etc. Why I asked? Yes you’ve guessed it. “elf and safety!” One tipped over and ‘injured’ a passer-by who now plans to sue!

Woe betide any booter who puts one of these small plastic boxes of CDs in the way or drives over someone’s foot as they pull out through the throng. I feel expensive public liability insurance coming on!

Now perhaps the 717 pilgrims who died recently in Mecca have a claim against the Saudi Government for negligence, but a pile of second-hand dresses and shirts toppling from all of three feet? Give me strength!

JOHN STOOKE Haydon End Swindon