R(Long) v Secretary of State for Defence [2014] EWHC 2391 (Admin): applying Smith and refining the scope of Article 2 ECHR in the context of military activities

30 Jul 2014

In this decision, the first to explore the scope of the Article 2 ECHR ‘safeguarding’ obligation in the context of military activities following the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in the Susan Smith case, the Divisional Court rejected the contention that the safeguarding obligation imposed on the state a duty to protect soldiers from lack of care or competence in the chain of command.  There was, accordingly, no ‘duty to investigate’ deaths that occurred in circumstances arguably involving such an alleged breach.

In any event, the Divisional Court concluded that any such duty, had it arisen, had been discharged through an inquest and internal Army investigations. Moreover, the Divisional Court considered the claim to be brought out of time, and in the circumstances the considerable delay was not justified.