Supreme Court rejects appeal to sue police for negligence

28 Jan 2015 | by Caroline Sweeney

The Supreme Court has today dismissed an appeal to sue the police for negligence, by the family of a woman murdered after a 999 delay. The Court also dismissed a cross-appeal by Gwent and South Wales Police and ruled that the claimant’s case in relation to breach of the right to life under Article 2, ECHR must proceed to trial.

Joanna Michael dialled 999 twice during an attack by her boyfriend, before she was stabbed to death in 2009. The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) found she was failed by South Wales and Gwent Police.

The Supreme Court rejected the arguments put forward by Ms Michael’s family that the police owe a duty of care in negligence where: (i) they are aware or ought reasonably to be aware of a threat to the life or physical safety of an identifiable person, or member of an identifiable small group (“Interveners’ Liability Principle”); or alternatively, (ii) a member of the public gives the police apparently credible evidence that a third party, whose identity and whereabouts are known, presents a specific and imminent threat to his life or physical safety (“Lord Bingham’s Liability Principle”).

 The Court, however, found that South Wales Police and Gwent Police had a case to answer in relation to Article 2, ECHR.

This judgment has received various press coverage, including BBC and the Telegraph.

Please click to view the full press summary in Michael and others (Appellants) v The Chief Constable of South Wales Police and another (Respondents) [2015] UKSC 2.

Please click here to view the full judgment.

Conor McCarthy acted for Cymorth i Ferched Cymru (Welsh Women’s Aid), led by Caoilfhionn Gallagher and instructed by Hopkin, Murray, Beskine Solicitors).