Matthews v The Ministry of Defence: QBD 22 Jan 2002

The claimant sought damages for asbestos related diseases, incurred whilst working as an engineer in the Royal Navy. He claimed that the bar on claiming against the Crown infringed his rights to a remedy. The 1987 Act removed the bar to a claim, but not retrospectively. Section 10 of the 1947 Act created a new immunity. Actions against a State are not barred in limine. The Secretary of State may allow an action to proceed, but has the right to prevent an action. Some claims made by persons employed by the State have not been treated as involving the determination of civil rights. The Pellegrin case had now set the test for determining whether an action involved the determination of civil rights, and the test involved looking at the nature of the duties undertaken. The claim also had to relate to et applicant’s conditions of service. This is a claim in tort. Despite the existence of an alternative means of compensation, the clause failed the proportionality test. It is not possible to read the Act in a way which would make it compatible with the Convention, and a declaration of incompatibility was made.
The Honourable Mr Justice Keith
Times 30-Jan-2002, [2002] EWHC 13 (QB)
Crown Proceedings Act 1947 10, European Convention on Human Rights 6(1) 2(1), Crown Proceedings (Armed Forces) Act 1987
CitedPellegrin v France ECHR 8-Dec-1999
The court modified the approach taken in earlier decisions, that there are excluded from the scope of article 6(1) disputes raised by public servants whose duties typify the specific activities of the public service in so far as the latter is acting . .

Cited by:
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 . .

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Updated: 08 January 2021; Ref: scu.167423