Muuse v Secretary of State for The Home Department: CA 27 Apr 2010

The claimant, a Dutch national, was detained pending deportation. He was arrested ‘for immigration’ after being given bail in other proceedings. It had been found that that detention was unlawful. He did not come within the criteria for deportation, and he was not informed as to the reasons for his detention, and the reviews of his detention were inadequate. Despite the centre having evidence his Dutch nationality, he was told he was not Dutch ‘because of his colour’. His detention continued for several months. The judge commented: ‘One mistake would be bad enough but at least one could be forgiven. But this number of mistakes and the failure to implement clear procedures is unforgiveable. This is an appalling indictment of the way the Home Office and HMPS were operating in 2006 when detaining M. Such conduct reflects an indifference to doing justice on the part of those who dealt with M’s case on the [Home Secretary]’s behalf. ‘ The defendant appealed against award of exemplary damages.
Held: The judge had failed to recognise that the essence of misfeasance is in the action of the official and not in its consequences. He had not established the knowledge of or reckless indifference to legality. The appeal succeeded on the limited issue of public misfeasance.
It was not permissible for the defendant not to allow its junior officers to give evidence: ‘it is difficult to understand the policy of attempting to give officials anonymity and of exempting them from giving an explanation, as those who make decisions that deprive a person of his liberty should not be permitted to claim anonymity and be shielded from explaining their conduct to a court. It is moreover difficult to see how such a policy is consistent with the rule of law in a democracy.’
The defendant’s appeal on damages failed. The unlawful imprisonment of M was not merely unconstitutional but an arbitrary and outrageous exercise of executive power. It called for the award of exemplary damages by way of punishment, to deter and to vindicate the strength of the law . . The outrageous nature of the conduct is exhibited partly by the way in which they treated M and ignored his protests that he was Dutch, partly by the manifest incompetence in which they acted throughout and partly by their failure to take the most elementary steps to check his documents which they held.
When awarding exemplary damages for oppressive, arbitrary or unconstitutional conduct by government officials, it was not necessary to ask also whether the outrageous conduct disclosed malice.

Thomas LJ, Sir Scott Baker
[2010] EWCA Civ 453, Times 11-May-2010
England and Wales
CitedThree Rivers District Council and Others v Governor and Company of The Bank of England HL 18-May-2000
The applicants alleged misfeasance against the Bank of England in respect of the regulation of a bank.
Held: The Bank could not be sued in negligence, but the tort of misfeasance required clear evidence of misdeeds. The action was now properly . .
CitedStockwell and others v Society of Lloyd’s; Society of Lloyd’s v Henderson and Others; Lowe and Others v Society of Lloyd’s CA 27-Jul-2007
The claimants sought to recover damages from the defendants in their alleged mishandling of their agencies. They had sought to amend the pleadings to add a claim for misfeasance in public office, and now appealed refusal of leave.
Held: the . .
CitedRookes v Barnard (No 1) HL 21-Jan-1964
The court set down the conditions for the award of exemplary damages. There are two categories. The first is where there has been oppressive or arbitrary conduct by a defendant. Cases in the second category are those in which the defendant’s conduct . .
CitedPB, Regina (on the Application of) v Secretary of State for the Home Department Admn 4-Dec-2008
The court considered the applicable level of basic damages for false imprisonment. . .
CitedLondon Borough of Southwark v Dennett CA 7-Nov-2007
The defendant tenant had been delayed for over five years by the claimant in buying his council house. He stopped paying rent in protest, and the council brought possession proceedings. He then paid his rent and continued in his counterclaim to . .
CitedKuddus v Chief Constable of Leicestershire Constabulary HL 7-Jun-2001
There is no rule of law preventing the award of exemplary damages against police officers. The fact that no case of misfeasance in public office had led to such awards before 1964, did not prevent such an award now. Although damages are generally . .
CitedHolden v Chief Constable of Lancashire CA 1987
The claimant sought damages after false imprisonment by the defendant for 20 minutes. The Judge had withdrawn from the jury the possibility of awarding exemplary damages on the basis that there was no suggestion of oppressive behaviour on the part . .
CitedThompson v Commissioner of Police of Metropolis; Hsu v Same CA 20-Feb-1997
CS Damages of 200,000 pounds by way of exemplary damages had been awarded against the police for unlawful arrest and assault.
Held: The court gave a guideline maximum pounds 50,000 award against police for . .
CitedAB v South West Water Services Ltd CA 1993
Exemplary and aggravated damages were claimed in an action for nuisance arising out of the contamination of water by the defendant utility.
Held: Sir Thomas Bingham MR said: ‘A defendant accused of crime may ordinarily be ordered (if . .
Appeal fromMuuse v Secretary of State for The Home Department QBD 17-Jul-2009
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Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Torts – Other, Damages

Updated: 10 November 2021; Ref: scu.408609