Court of Appeal allows claims for economic and reputational damage to proceed to trial

 

James-Bowen v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis [2016] EWCA Civ 1217

 

Nicholas Bowen QC and David Lemer represent four police officers in their claims for damages arising from the Commissioner’s alleged failure to protect their interests when settling a claim for damages arising from claims that they had seriously assaulted a suspected Jihadist, Babar Ahmed, during the course of his arrest.  The various claims had been struck out and/or summary judgment entered following a decision of Jay J in May 2015 ([2015] EWHC 1249 (QB)).

 

In what the Defendant argues is judgment with serious ramifications for employers inthe public and private sector, handed down on  30 November 2016, the Court of Appeal concluded that the officers’ claims, as quasi-employees, that their economic interests and reputation had been damaged as a result of the Commissioner’s failure to take reasonable care not to sacrifice their interests when settling the claim, could proceed to trial.  Whilst the Commissioner’s primary obligation was to protect the interests of the Metropolitan Police Service, the Moore-Bick LJ, giving judgment, concluded at paragraph 36 of the judgment, that:

 

“I agree that the Commissioner’s primary duty was to protect the interests of the MPS, but I do not think that a duty of the kind alleged in the present case necessarily cuts across it. It was in the interests of the Commissioner and the officers for the defence to be conducted as effectively as possible and a duty of care in that regard would not inevitably give rise to any conflict of interest. I think it is arguable that the Commissioner also owed a duty to the officers to take reasonable care not to sacrifice their interests and professional reputations without good reason and without giving them reasonable warning of what he intended to do.”

 

The Commissioner is seeking permission to appeal to the Supreme Court.

 

The Claimants are represented by Binder Bansel of Pattinson Brewer Solicitors

 

Press coverage in The Guardian and BBC.

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