The Court upheld decisions striking out actions for negligence brought by claimants who had been arrested and held in custody during criminal investigations which were later discontinued. The Crown Prosecution Service owes no general duty of care to a defendant in its conduct of a prosecution. The court must not confuse the immunity rule which extends to witnesses with the question whether or not in particular circumstances a duty of care is owed by prosecutors. The police may not be sued for negligence in respect of their activities in the investigation and suppression of crime. A prosecutor does not assume a responsibility to the defendant to act carefully and owes him no duty of care in the law of tort.
Steyn LJ said: ‘In the absence of a specific assumption of responsibility lawyers engaged in hostile civil litigation are not liable in negligence to the opposing party.’
Morritt LJ, Steyn LJ
Times 23-Nov-1994,  QB 335,  1 All ER 833,  EWCA Civ 4,  2 WLR 173
England and Wales
Considered – Caparo Industries Plc v Dickman and others HL 8-Feb-1990
Limitation of Loss from Negligent Mis-statement
The plaintiffs sought damages from accountants for negligence. They had acquired shares in a target company and, relying upon the published and audited accounts which overstated the company’s earnings, they purchased further shares.
Held: The . .
Cited – Arthur JS Hall and Co (A Firm) v Simons; Barratt v Woolf Seddon (A Firm); Harris v Schofield Roberts and Hill (A Firm) HL 20-Jul-2000
Clients sued their solicitors for negligence. The solicitors responded by claiming that, when acting as advocates, they had the same immunities granted to barristers.
Held: The immunity from suit for negligence enjoyed by advocates acting in . .
Cited – Darker v Chief Constable of The West Midlands Police HL 1-Aug-2000
The plaintiffs had been indicted on counts alleging conspiracy to import drugs and conspiracy to forge traveller’s cheques. During the criminal trial it emerged that there had been such inadequate disclosure by the police that the proceedings were . .
Cited – Customs and Excise v Barclays Bank Plc CA 22-Nov-2004
The claimant had obtained judgment against customers of the defendant, and then freezing orders for the accounts. The defendants inadvertently or negligently allowed sums to be transferred from the accounts. The claimants sought repayment by the . .
Cited – Brooks v Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis and others HL 21-Apr-2005
The claimant was with Stephen Lawrence when they were both attacked and Mr Lawrence killed. He claimed damages for the negligent way the police had dealt with his case, and particularly said that they had failed to assess him as a victim of crime, . .
Cited – Waters v Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis HL 27-Jul-2000
A policewoman, having made a complaint of serious sexual assault against a fellow officer complained again that the Commissioner had failed to protect her against retaliatory assaults. Her claim was struck out, but restored on appeal.
Held: . .
Cited – HM Customs and Excise v Barclays Bank Plc HL 21-Jun-2006
The claimant had served an asset freezing order on the bank in respect of one of its customers. The bank paid out on a cheque inadvertently as to the order. The Commissioners claimed against the bank in negligence. The bank denied any duty of care. . .
Cited – Rowlands v Chief Constable of Merseyside Police CA 20-Dec-2006
The claimant succeeded in her claims for general damages against the respondent for personal injury, false imprisonment and malicious prosecution, but appealed refusal of the court to award aggravated damages against the chief constable.
Held: . .
Cited – Vicario v the Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis CA 21-Dec-2007
The claimant said that the police in deciding not to prosecute the person she said had abused her as a child, had breached a duty of care to her. A prosecution would have allowed her to come to terms with her distress.
Held: The defendant’s . .
Cited – Welton, Welton v North Cornwall District Council CA 17-Jul-1996
The defendant authority appealed a finding that it was liable in negligence from the conduct of one of its environmental health officers. The plaintiff had set out to refurbish and open a restaurant. He said the officer gave him a list of things he . .
Cited – Trent Strategic Health Authority v Jain and Another HL 21-Jan-2009
The claimants’ nursing home business had been effectively destroyed by the actions of the Authority which had applied to revoke their licence without them being given notice and opportunity to reply. They succeeded on appeal, but the business was by . .
Cited – Mitchell and Another v Glasgow City Council HL 18-Feb-2009
(Scotland) The pursuers were the widow and daughter of a tenant of the respondent who had been violently killed by his neighbour. They said that the respondent, knowing of the neighbour’s violent behaviours had a duty of care to the deceased and . .
Cited – Desmond v The Chief Constable Of Nottinghamshhire Police QBD 1-Oct-2009
The claimant appealed against the striking out of parts of his claim alleging negligence and misfeasance. He had been arrested on suspicion of indecent assault, but then was fully cleared by a third officer. When he later applied for an enhanced CRB . .
Cited – Moulton v Chief Constable of The West Midlands CA 13-May-2010
The claimant appealed against dismissal of his claim for damages for malicious prosecution and misfeasance in public office. He had been arrested and held on allegations of serious sexual assaults, but then released when the matter came to the Crown . .
Cited – Connolly-Martin v Davis CA 27-May-1999
A claim was brought by a party against counsel for his opponent who had gone beyond his authority in giving an undertaking for his client.
Held: The claim had no prospect of success, and had been struck out correctly. Counsel offering to the . .
Cited – BT v Crown Prosecution Service CA 16-Dec-1997
The plaintiff appealed against dismissal of his claim for malicious prosecution brought against the Service.
Held: Actions for malicious prosecution, against the Crown Prosecution Service are to be examined closely to ensure that they are not . .
Cited – An Informer v A Chief Constable CA 29-Feb-2012
The claimant appealed against dismissal of his claim for damages against the police. He had provided them with information, but he said that they had acted negligently and in breach of contract causing him financial loss. The officer handling his . .
Cited – Olutu v Home Office CA 29-Nov-1996
The claimant said that she had been detained in excess of the period allowed under the 1987 Regulations, and that that detention was unlawful. She now appealed against the striking out of her claim.
Held: Her action failed. The availablility . .
Cited – Michael and Others v The Chief Constable of South Wales Police and Another SC 28-Jan-2015
The claimants asserted negligence in the defendant in failing to provide an adequate response to an emergency call, leading, they said to the death of their daughter at the hands of her violent partner. They claimed also under the 1998 Act. The . .
Cited – Motasim v Crown Prosecution Service and Others QBD 15-Aug-2017
The claimant had been arrested on suspicion of terrorism, from his innocent association with people later convicted of terrorism. The defendant discovered evidence which would undermine the case against him, but refuse to disclose it. Eventually, . .
Cited – SXH v The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) SC 11-Apr-2017
The Court was asked: ‘Does a decision by a public prosecutor to bring criminal proceedings against a person fall potentially within the scope of article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights in circumstances where a) the prosecutor has . .
Cited – Robinson v Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police SC 8-Feb-2018
Limits to Police Exemption from Liability
The claimant, an elderly lady was bowled over and injured when police were chasing a suspect through the streets. As they arrested him they fell over on top of her. She appealed against refusal of her claim in negligence.
Held: Her appeal . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.
Negligence, Legal Professions, Police
Updated: 31 October 2021; Ref: scu.80290