A groundbreaking ruling from the Supreme Court means that some soldiers and their families will now have the right to pursue negligence claims.
Previously, it had not been possible to bring a case against the Military of Defence where the injuries were sustained during a combat situation.
The cases involved in the new ruling were that of soldiers killed in Iraq while on board a poorly-armoured vehicle and another who was killed in friendly fire.
The court declared that soldiers had a ‘right to life’ and that the doctrine of combat of immunity needs to be extended to cover ‘the planning of and preparation for active operations against the enemy’.
The ruling drew on the Human Rights Act, Article 2 which highlights an individual’s right to life. It now means that those fighting overseas can potentially make a claim if there has been provable negligence.
The ruling, which now clarifies that soldiers fall within the jurisdiction of the UK when overseas, is good news to the families of many servicemen. Many of which have been struggling to find out the details of what happened to members of their family and whether or not there was any negligence on behalf of the MoD.
The 3 soldiers involved all died in separate incidents between 2005 and 2007 when their poorly-armoured Land Rover was destroyed by roadside bombs.
Another family’s relative, from Stoke-on-Trent, was killed in 2003 in a friendly fire situation while on board a challenger tank.
The ruling is likely to ignite a litany of compensation cases, including ones where there has been poor or missing equipment. Many cases will need to be re-examined by the court and in some instances, there could be hundreds of thousands of pounds owed to families where there has been demonstrable negligence by the MoD.
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Published on 16th February 2015.