Can you sue the Police for negligence when they admit they have made mistakes?
A recent Supreme Court decision has reinforced the long established legal position that the Police cannot be sued for negligence.
In 2009 Joanna Michael was murdered by her former boyfriend. Cyron Williams had broken into Joanna’s home having learned of her new relationship, he made threats to kill her. Joanna called 999. The call was taken by Gwent Police before being transferred to South Wales Police. The call should have been graded as requiring an immediate response but was wrongly downgraded to a lower level. Joanna made a second 999 call but by the time the Police arrived at Joanna’s home, she had been stabbed 72 times.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission ruled that both South Wales and Gwent Police had made mistakes.
Joanna’s family issued court proceedings for negligence against both police forces, hoping to secure compensation to help support her 2 children. The Court of Appeal had previously ruled that the claim could not succeed as the Police have immunity from negligence claims. This decision has now been upheld by the Supreme Court.
This is a tragic case. A young mother’s life has been ended in a brutal way. Her death may have been prevented if the Police had not wrongly downgraded her call and had attended her home immediately. It may appear a harsh decision to prevent her family from claiming compensation where the Police themselves have admitted their errors. Against this we have to consider the position of the Police. The Police have to be able to carry out their duties without the fear of being sued for every action they take. If the Police could be sued, their precious resources would be spent trying to avoid claims rather than being used to benefit and protect the greater community. This is the public policy reasoning behind the Court’s decision.
There are no easy answers to cases such as Joanna’s, but certainly for the time being the only person that can be held liable, is the person that causes the actual harm.
There’s Snow Need to Worry!
Having had the first snow falls of the winter and with more predicted for the coming week, you may be worrying about what you should you or shouldn’t do about clearing snow and ice.
Every single winter, someone somewhere, likes to worry all decent, helpful neighbours by suggesting that they may be sued if they clear snow from their paths and driveways and then someone falls and is injured.
This is ridiculous! When it comes to making a legal claim, there is a big difference between a simple accident and someone acting negligently. To be responsible for someone’s injury, the person clearing the snow would have to be negligent and make the conditions worse. An example of negligence would be if someone used hot water to melt the snow which then re-freezes and creates a dangerous sheet of ice. To do this would defy any common sense! If you are sensible, use a shovel and some salt/grit, you won’t be able to go wrong.
For further advice on snow clearing go to www.rospa.com/wintersafety or www.gov.uk/clear-snow-road-path-cycleway
As schools get ready to break up for the summer and you start packing your suitcase ready for a fun packed fortnight in Benidorm, it’s worth familarising yourself with a recent Court of Appeal decision.
In the case of Huzar v Jet2.com, the Court of Appeal held that the airline, Jet2.com, was liable for a “technical fault” and Mr Huzar was entitled to compensation for his delayed flight.
Mr Huzar originally brought the claim against Jet2.com when they refused his request for compensation when his flight from Malaga was delayed by 27 hours. Under European Regulations, any passenger who is delayed by more than 3 hours is entitled to receive compensation of up to €600 from the airline. However airlines do not have to pay if there are “exceptional circumstances”. Jet2 argued that they were not liable to pay as the delay was due to a technical fault with the plane and that amounted to “exceptional circumstances”. Many airlines reject compensation claims on this basis.
The Court of Appeal however ruled that technical faults are inherent in the normal activity of an airline and therefore do not constitute “exceptional circumstances”. Mr Huzar was awarded compensation of £526.
This may provide you with some comfort when faced with that all too familiar flashing notice board indicating FLIGHT DELAYED, now where did I put my passport....
Happy New Year!
How many of you have made a New Year’s Resolution? How many have already broken it? Some of us may try to lose weight, join a gym, do more charitable work or give up smoking.
Now is a good time to look at your personal affairs and consider making some important resolutions that could make a big impact on your life in the coming year.
1. Make a Will – A Will is one of those things we keep meaning to make but never quite get round to. Making a Will is not difficult or expensive and it is the only way that you can ensure that your loved ones are provided for after your death in the way that you want them to be. If you have already made a Will, review it. Make sure it still reflects your wishes and your current family circumstances.
2. Consider a Lasting Power of Attorney – there are currently 800,000 people with dementia in the UK and the number is steadily increasing. By making a Lasting Power of Attorney now, you can choose who you would like to make important decisions about your care, medical treatment and money, if in the future you are unable to make your own decisions, giving peace of mind both to you and your family.
3. Review your business relationships – if you are in Partnership do you have a Partnership Agreement setting out your responsibilities, shares in the profit and losses of the business and what happens if you want to end the business? Review your Terms and Conditions. Do they define what you have agreed to supply and more importantly what you haven’t agreed to supply? Is the price clear? Is the extent of your responsibility clearly defined? Taking these simple steps now could help you avoid a lengthy and costly dispute in the future.
4. Review your personal relationships – sadly January is the busiest month of the year for divorce lawyers. If you have come to the realisation that there are cracks in your relationship which simply cannot be repaired, then get some professional advice as to the options open to you. If you are considering moving in with a partner, sit down and discuss with your partner the basis on which you will be living together, who owns the property and what should happen if you are to split up. Get your agreement recorded in writing. If you are taking the plunge of marriage, consider whether a Pre-Nuptial Agreement is a sensible step.
Wishing you all a happy, peaceful and prosperous 2014.
HELP! I NEED A NOTARY AND DON’T KNOW WHERE TO START
Right! You’re about to do something that involves a foreign country, whether it be moving there, working there, or dealing with assets there. You’ve had a document or a set of instructions from the relevant authority and often there will be an instruction to have a notary public sign or witness the document. The chances are that you have rarely heard of a notary public before this point and are therefore not sure where to begin.
A notary public, generally speaking, is a legally trained individual who has the role of attesting, authenticating, and certifying documents under their seal and signature for use anywhere in the world.
For instance, if you have a property in Florida that needs to be sold and you cannot go to Florida to sign the papers, the relevant papers can be signed in England or Wales before the notary. If you are starting a job in China, the authorities in China will need sight of your qualification certificates but will only verify them as authentic if a notary has certified them as authentic.
And it gets better. The receiving country might also want something called an ‘apostille’ attached to the notary’s certificate. The apostille is a small certificate that can be attached to a UK document enabling that document to be recognised outside of the UK. Most European countries require this.
The best place to start is to contact your local solicitor practice to see if they have any notary public working there. Failing that, the Notaries Society website is useful for finding a notary local to you:
A notary will insist on a face to face meeting with you. You must provide satisfactory evidence of ID to confirm you are who you say you are. The notary will usually sign and seal the documents at the meeting for you to take away…subject to payment of the notary’s fee.
If you need any further assistance with what a notary does or if you need one, contact me and I will do my very best to assist.
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