11 April 2008
Leigh Day & Co
welcomes the judgment by the High Court
today which rules that the Human Rights Act
can apply to soldiers in combat
. Today’s ruling follows the judgment of the House of Lords in Al Skeini, and holds that the Human Rights Act can apply to soldiers killed in combat anywhere in the world.
Mr Justice Collins
“...the soldier does not lose all protection simply because he is in hostile territory carrying out dangerous operations. Thus, for example, to send a soldier out on patrol or, indeed, into battle with defective equipment could constitute a breach of Article 2…….So the protection of Article 2 is capable of extending to a member of the armed forces wherever he or she may be; whether it does will depend on the circumstances of the particular case.”
Not only did the judgement hold that the Human Rights Act could apply to soldiers in combat, but the High Court also rejected an attempt by the MoD to stop coroners using phrases such as “serious failure” in inquests concerning troops who have died on active service. The MoD had argued that such phrases could be seen as apportioning civil liability, which is not allowed under the 1984 Coroners’ rules.
, a partner in the Complex Claims department, comments on the ruling:
“Today's judgment opens the way, for the first time, for soldiers injured in battle to take on the Ministry of Defence to get proper compensation for what they have been through rather than the piddling amounts available through the MoD compensation scheme. The soldiers will obviously have the hurdle to overcome of showing that defective equipment is the cause of their injuries but from experience that has so often played a major part. Certainly being able to by pass combat immunity, is a major step forward in terms of getting justice for our servicemen.
'The judgments we have seen from the Courts not just this week but over the last 12 months shows a judiciary that is not only willing but actually keen to put a torch to many of the old legal shibboleths like combat immunity, particularly in relation to the operation of the British Army, to ensure that the Rule of Law applies not only within Britain but wherever our forces operate.”
Please contact Martyn Day
on 0207 650 1234 for more information about this piece.
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