The Court was asked whether the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis (‘the Commissioner’) owes a duty to her officers, in the conduct of proceedings against her based on their alleged misconduct, to take reasonable care to protect them from economic and reputational harm. Four officers arrested a suspected terrorist who later alleged mistreatment. The officers were cleared after investigation, but the arrestee then issued a civil claim against the chief constable. The officers suffered threats of violence against themselves. The CC settled the claim and complained of their refusing to give evidence without protection. The officers now alleged failures in the Commissioners duty of care to them.
Held: The Commissioner’s appeal was granted. The imposition of the claimed duty would not be fair, just or reasonable.
Although employees would normally have no entitlement to disclosure of privileged material in the possession of their employer relating to the defence of the original proceedings, the effective defence of proceedings by the employees against the employer brought on the basis that the earlier proceedings were conducted in breach of duty may well require waiver of privilege in order to demonstrate the contrary. This has the potential to undermine the effective conduct of the defence of the original claim against the employer in that the possibility of such a claim in negligence and the likelihood of having to waive privilege may well inhibit frank discussion between the employer and his legal advisers.
Baroness Hale of Richmond PSC. Lord Wilson, Lord Carnwath, Lord Hughes, Lord Hodge JJSC
 UKSC 40,  1 WLR 3945,  1 WLR 4021,  IRLR 954,  ICR 1353,  WLR(D) 529, UKSC 2017/0003
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England and Wales
At first instance – James-Bowen and Others v The Commissioner of Police for The Metropolis QBD 1-May-2015
The claimants were police officers, subject to disciplinary proceedings after a complaint by an arrested terrorist subject that he had been assaulted. The allegations were dismissed, but they now complained that the respondent had not implemented . .
Appeal fom – James-Bowen and Others v Commissioner of Police for The Metropolis CA 30-Nov-2016
Appeal against the order of Jay J. striking out the particulars of claim and entering judgment for the respondent, the Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis, in an action brought against him by the four appellants, all of whom were, at the time . .
Cited – 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 – Mullaney v Chief Constable of West Midlands Police CA 15-May-2001
The claimant police officer was severely injured making an arrest. He claimed damages from the respondent for contributory negligence of other officers in failing to come to his assistance.
Held: If a police officer owes a duty of care to . .
Cited – White, Frost and others v Chief Constable of South Yorkshire and others HL 3-Dec-1998
No damages for Psychiatric Harm Alone
The House considered claims by police officers who had suffered psychiatric injury after tending the victims of the Hillsborough tragedy.
Held: The general rules restricting the recovery of damages for pure psychiatric harm applied to the . .
Cited – Malik v Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI); Mahmud v Bank of Credit and Commerce International HL 12-Jun-1997
Allowance of Stigma Damages
The employees claimed damages, saying that the way in which their employer had behaved during their employment had led to continuing losses, ‘stigma damages’ after the termination.
Held: It is an implied term of any contract of employment that . .
Cited – Stevens v University of Birmingham QBD 31-Jul-2015
Cited – Braganza v BP Shipping Ltd SC 18-Mar-2015
The claimant’s husband had been lost from the defendant’s ship at sea. The defendant had contracted to pay compensation unless the loss was by suicide. They so determined. The court was now asked whether that was a permissible conclusion in the . .
Cited – Gogay v Hertfordshire County Council CA 26-Jul-2000
The employee sought damages for breach of the implied term of trust and confidence, even though she remained throughout the employment of the Council against whom she was bringing proceedings.
Held: Her remaining in employment was a factor . .
Cited – Yapp v Foreign and Commonwealth Office CA 21-Nov-2014
Diplomat withdrawn from post following allegations of inappropriate conduct . .
Cited – Eastwood and another v Magnox Electric plc; McCabe v Cornwall County Council and others HL 15-Jul-2004
The first claimants were long standing employees. Mr Eastwood fell out with his manager, who disciplined him using false statements. When Williams refused to provide a false statement he too was disciplined. Each claimed damages for the injury to . .
Cited – Scally v Southern Health and Social Services Board HL 1991
The plaintiffs were junior doctors employed by the respondents. Their terms had been collectively negotiated, and incorporated the Regulations. During the period of their employment different regulations had given and then taken way their right to . .
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 . .
Cited – Societe Generale, London Branch v Geys SC 19-Dec-2012
The claimant’s employment by the bank had been terminated. The parties disputed the sums due, and the date of the termination of the contract. The court was asked ‘Does a repudiation of a contract of employment by the employer which takes the form . .
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 – Crossley v Faithfull and Gould Holdings Ltd CA 16-Mar-2004
The employee claimant was to retire. On his employer’s negligent advice he resigned and opted for discretionary benefits.
Held: The employer owed no general duty of care to an employee’s financial interests. Nor could a term requiring such a . .
Cited – Donoghue (or M’Alister) v Stevenson HL 26-May-1932
Decomposed Snail in Ginger Beer Bottle – Liability
The appellant drank from a bottle of ginger beer manufactured by the defendant. She suffered injury when she found a half decomposed snail in the liquid. The glass was opaque and the snail could not be seen. The drink had been bought for her by a . .
Cited – Hedley Byrne and Co Ltd v Heller and Partners Ltd HL 28-May-1963
Banker’s Liability for Negligent Reference
The appellants were advertising agents. They were liable themselves for advertising space taken for a client, and had sought a financial reference from the defendant bankers to the client. The reference was negligent, but the bankers denied any . .
Cited – Calveley v Chief Constable of the Merseyside Police HL 1989
Police officers brought an action in negligence against a Chief Constable on the ground that disciplinary proceedings against them had been negligently conducted. They claimed that the investigating officers had negligently failed to conduct the . .
Cited – JD v East Berkshire Community Health NHS Trust and others HL 21-Apr-2005
Parents of children had falsely and negligently been accused of abusing their children. The children sought damages for negligence against the doctors or social workers who had made the statements supporting the actions taken. The House was asked if . .
Exemplar – Mohidin and Others v Commissioner of The Police of The Metropolis and Others QBD 27-Jan-2016
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 – Steel and Another v NRAM Ltd (Formerly NRAM Plc) SC 28-Feb-2018
The appellant solicitor acted in a land transaction. The land was mortgaged to the respondent bank. She wrote to the bank stating her client’s intention to repay the whole loan. The letter was negligently mistaken and the bankers allowed the . .
Cited – ABC v St George’s Healthcare NHS Trust and Others CA 16-May-2017
Appeal from order striking out claim at common law as disclosing no reasonably arguable duty of care. The claimant’s father, whilst detained as a mental patient had been diagnosed with Huntington’s Disease, but the defendant, knowing that the . .
Cited – Dennis and Sons Ltd v West Norfolk Farmers Manure and Chemical Co-operative Co Ltd ChD 1943
Shareholders were entitled to disclosure of an accountants’ report concerning the rights and duties of the board commissioned by the directors, notwithstanding that by the time the report was received the shareholders had commenced proceedings . .
Cited – Willers v Joyce and Another (Re: Gubay (Deceased) No 1) SC 20-Jul-2016
Parties had been involved in an action for wrongful trading. This was not persisted with but the claimant sought damages saying that the action was only part of a campaign to do him harm. This appeal raised the question whether the tort of malicious . .
Cited – CIA Barca de Panama SA v George Wimpey and Co Ltd CA 1980
Claim to Legal Professional Privilege Lost
Barca and Wimpey had been 50/50 joint venturers through the medium of a company called DLW which had provided services to oil companies in the Middle East, including the Aramco Group. Wimpey agreed to buy out Barca’s interest in DLW on terms which . .
Cited – Dian AO v Davis, Frankel and Mead QBD 2005
Application was made for the disclosure of documents from an earlier court case involving the defendants.
Held: The application as made was disallowed. The right thing to do was to identify the documents it sought with reasonable precision and . .
Cited – Commercial Union Assurance Co plc v Mander QBD 1996
Moore-Bick J provided the following example: ‘Although in many cases a relationship between two parties which supports common interest privilege will be one which also gives each of them a right to obtain disclosure of confidential documents . .
Cited – Dian AO v Davis Frankel and Mead 2005
Moore-Bick J discussed the principle of open justice, saying that the highest importance was to be attached to the principle and that it was for that reason that in ‘all but exceptional cases’ hearings are conducted in public, judgment is delivered . .
Cited – Darnley v Croydon Health Services NHS Trust SC 10-Oct-2018
The claimant had been assaulted. He presented at the defendant hospital with head injuries. Despite his complaints he said he was not treated properly, being told to wait five hours at reception, and went home. Later an ambulance was delayed and he . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.
Updated: 27 September 2021; Ref: scu.620135