Matthews v Ministry of Defence: HL 13 Feb 2003

The claimant sought damages against the Crown, having suffered asbestosis whilst in the armed forces. He challenged the denial to him of a right of action by the 1947 Act.
Held: Human rights law did not create civil rights, but rather voided procedural bars to their enforcement. The issue of what is a substantive and what a procedural bar is a difficult distinction. At common law, the crown could do no wrong, and therefore no action lay against the crown. That was substantive law, and the 1947 did not stand as a bar to an action which would otherwise lie. The contention that a right existed from the happening of the injury until the Secretary of State issued his certificate did not succeed. The Act did not operate first to create then withdraw a right of action.

Bingham of Cornhill, Hoffman, Hope of Craighead, Millett, Walker of Gestingthorpe LL
Times 14-Feb-2003, [2003] UKHL 4, [2003] 2 WLR 435, Gazette 03-Apr-2003, [2003] 1 AC 1163, 14 BHRC 585, [2003] PIQR P24, [2003] UKHRR 453, [2003] ACD 42, [2003] ICR 247, [2003] 1 All ER 689, [2004] HRLR 2
House of Lords, Bailii
European Convention on Human Rights 6, Crown Proceedings Act 1947 10
England and Wales
Appeal fromMatthews v Ministry of Defence CA 29-May-2002
The Ministry appealed against a finding that the Act, which deprived the right of a Crown employee to sue for personal injuries, was an infringement of his human rights.
Held: The restriction imposed by the section was not a procedural . .
CitedBell v Secretary of State for Defence CA 1986
The deceased was injured serving in the forces in Germany. His injury was worstened after negligent communications between army doctors. The defendant relied upon State Immunity to defend a claim, saying he had issued a certificate that he had died . .
CitedMulcahy v Ministry of Defence CA 21-Feb-1996
A soldier in the Artillery Regiment was serving in Saudi Arabia in the course of the Gulf war. He was injured when he was part of a team managing a Howitzer, which was firing live rounds into Iraq, and he was standing in front of the gun when it was . .
CitedQuinn v Ministry of Defence CA 28-Nov-1997
. .
CitedDerry v Ministry of Defence CA 18-Mar-1999
Where an army doctor was accused of failing to diagnose a serviceman’s ocular cancer, the negligence which caused the consequent injury was caused by the delay in a correct diagnosis, and the treatment fell within the scope of Crown Immunity. . .
CitedGolder v The United Kingdom ECHR 21-Feb-1975
G was a prisoner who was refused permission by the Home Secretary to consult a solicitor with a view to bringing libel proceedings against a prison officer. The court construed article 6 of ECHR, which provides that ‘in the determination of his . .
CitedAshingdane v The United Kingdom ECHR 28-May-1985
The right of access to the courts is not absolute but may be subject to limitations. These are permitted by implication since the right of access ‘by its very nature calls for regulation by the State, regulation which may vary in time and place . .
CitedJames and Others v The United Kingdom ECHR 21-Feb-1986
The claimants challenged the 1967 Act, saying that it deprived them of their property rights when lessees were given the power to purchase the freehold reversion.
Held: Article 1 (P1-1) in substance guarantees the right of property. Allowing a . .
CitedStubbings and Others v The United Kingdom ECHR 22-Oct-1996
There was no human rights breach where the victims of sex abuse had been refused a right to sue for damages out of time. The question is whether and to what extent differences in otherwise similar situations justify a different treatment in law: . .
CitedPowell and Rayner v The United Kingdom ECHR 21-Feb-1990
The applicants complained of the noise generated by Heathrow Airport saying that it affected their human rights to enjoy their private life and possessions.
Held: Whether the case was analysed in terms of a positive duty on the state to take . .
CitedFayed v United Kingdom ECHR 6-Oct-1994
The Secretary of State had appointed inspectors to investigate and report on a company takeover. In their report, which was published, the inspectors made findings which were critical of and damaging to the applicants, who relied on the civil limb . .
CitedOsman v The United Kingdom ECHR 28-Oct-1998
Police’s Complete Immunity was Too Wide
(Grand Chamber) A male teacher developed an obsession with a male pupil. He changed his name by deed poll to the pupil’s surname. He was required to teach at another school. The pupil’s family’s property was subjected to numerous acts of vandalism, . .
CitedTinnelly and Sons Ltd and Others and McElduff and Others v United Kingdom ECHR 10-Jul-1998
Legislation which disallowed claimants who asserted that they had been discriminated against, on the grounds of their religious background, from appealing through the courts system, was a clear breach of their human rights. A limitation will not be . .
CitedWaite and Kennedy v Germany ECHR 18-Feb-1999
The grant of immunity from the jurisdiction of the national court to an international organisation according to a long-standing practice essential for ensuring the proper functioning of these organisations free from unilateral interference by . .
CitedZ And Others v The United Kingdom ECHR 10-May-2001
Four children complained that, for years before they were taken into care by the local authority, its social services department was well aware that they were living in filthy conditions and suffering ‘appalling’ neglect in the home of their . .
CitedMcElhinney v Ireland; Al-Adsani v United Kingdom; Fogarty v United Kingdom ECHR 21-Nov-2001
Grand Chamber – The first applicant said he had been injured by a shot fired by a British soldier who had been carried for two miles into the Republic of Ireland, clinging to the applicant’s vehicle following an incident at a checkpoint.
Held: . .
CitedKaplan v United Kingdom ECHR 14-Dec-1978
(Admissibility) The Secretary of State had, after preliminary procedures, served notices on an insurance company disallowing it from writing any new business, because its managing director the applicant, had been found not to be a fit and proper . .

Cited by:
Appealed toMatthews v Ministry of Defence CA 29-May-2002
The Ministry appealed against a finding that the Act, which deprived the right of a Crown employee to sue for personal injuries, was an infringement of his human rights.
Held: The restriction imposed by the section was not a procedural . .
CitedBarnfather v London Borough of Islington Education Authority, Secretary of State for Education and Skills QBD 7-Mar-2003
The appellant was convicted of the crime of being a parent whose child had failed to attend school regularly. She challenged saying that the offence required no guilty act on her part, but was one of strict liability, and contrary to her human . .
CitedWilson v Secretary of State for Trade and Industry; Wilson v First County Trust Ltd (No 2) HL 10-Jul-2003
The respondent appealed against a finding that the provision which made a loan agreement completely invalid for lack of compliance with the 1974 Act was itself invalid under the Human Rights Act since it deprived the respondent of its property . .
CitedSecretary of State for Work and Pensions v Kehoe CA 5-Mar-2004
The claimant had applied to the Child Support Agncy for maintenance. They failed utterly to obtain payment, and she complained now that she was denied the opportunity by the 1991 Act to take court proceedings herself.
Held: The denial of . .
CitedKehoe, Regina (on the Application of) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions HL 14-Jul-2005
The applicant contended that the 1991 Act infringed her human rights in denying her access to court to obtain maintenance for her children.
Held: The applicant had no substantive right to take part in the enforcement process in domestic law . .
CitedO’Connor and Another v Wiltshire County Council CA 9-May-2007
The claimants sought compensation for the diminution in the values of their properties because of noise pollution from a new highway. The defendant highway authority said that liability had been transferred to its contractors, and it had not been . .
CitedReader and others v Molesworths Bright Clegg Solicitors CA 2-Mar-2007
The claimants were children of the victim of a road traffic accident. The solicitors were conducting a claim on his behalf for damages, but when he died, they negligently discontinued the action.
Held: The claimants’ action as dependants of . .
CitedRegina v G (Secretary of State for the Home Department intervening) HL 18-Jun-2008
The defendant was fifteen. He was convicted of statutory rape of a 13 year old girl, believing her to be 15. He appealed saying that as an offence of strict liability he had been denied a right to a fair trial, and also that the offence charged was . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Human Rights, Personal Injury, Armed Forces

Leading Case

Updated: 09 November 2021; Ref: scu.179117