Smart v The Forensic Science Service Ltd: CA 2 Jul 2013

On a search of his house, the police found a bullet cartridge on the claimant’s property. It was sent for testing but due to a mistake it was reported as a live cartridge. The prosecution was only dropped after some months when the mistake was discovered. The plea was re-opened and the charge dismissed by consent. The claimant now appealed after rejection of his claim on the basis that the defendant had witness immunity from negligence, saying that alterations to the records amounted to deceit, and seeking permission to amend his pleadings accordingly. The respondent said that the late amendment should not be allowed.
Held: The appeal and the amendment was allowed, Abn arguable claim in decit had been raised, and: ‘It must be recognised that as a result of interference with the exhibit number the real bullet was falsely attributed to this appellant. The effect of interference with the exhibit numbers, whether it was designed originally to conceal confusion or ‘mix up’ or not, was the same as planting the real bullet in the appellant’s premises. It is alarming that the course of justice appears to have been perverted by the alteration of exhibit numbers and the failure to disclose that that had occurred or any reason why it occurred. I suggest any court would be most reluctant to allow immunity to be deployed in a way which prevents these matters being litigated. All the more so when the suggestion that the matter be rectified in the Magistrates’ Court removed any right of statutory redress.’

Moses, Rimer, Aikens LJJ
[2013] EWCA Civ 783
England and Wales
CitedSwain Mason and Others v Mills and Reeve (A Firm) CA 20-Jan-2011
The defendant firm appealed against leave given to the claimants to amend their Particulars of Claim . .
CitedWorldwide Corporation Limited v GPT Limited and GPT (Middle East) Limited CA 2-Dec-1998
Reasons for dismissal of application for leave to appeal – refusals of leave to amend particulars. The court must take into account the public interest in the efficient administration of justice which may be damaged by the disruption and delay . .
CitedBrown and Others v InnovatorOne Plc and Others ComC 19-Jun-2009
The claimants served proceedings by fax. The defendants denied that it was effective saying that they had not confirmed that they were instructed to accept service or that as required by the rules they had confirmed that they would accept service by . .
CitedEvans v London Hospital Medical College and Others 1981
The defendants employed by the first defendant carried out a post mortem on the plaintiff’s infant son. They found concentrations of morphine and told the police. The plaintiff was charged with the murder of her son. After further investigation no . .
CitedTaylor and Others v Director of The Serious Fraud Office and Others HL 29-Oct-1998
The defendant had requested the Isle of Man authorities to investigate the part if any taken by the plaintiff in a major fraud. No charges were brought against the plaintiff, but the documents showing suspicion came to be disclosed in the later . .
CitedDarker 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 by:
CitedSingh v Moorlands Primary School and Another CA 25-Jul-2013
The claimant was a non-white head teacher, alleging that her school governors and local authority had undermined and had ‘deliberately endorsed a targeted campaign of discrimination, bullying, harassment and victimisation’ against her as an Asian . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Negligence, Police, Torts – Other, Litigation Practice

Updated: 09 November 2021; Ref: scu.512054