Supreme Court hears appeal in Robinson v Chief Constable of West Yorkshire considering again the Hill immunity and liability for the police in negligence.

In the latest development concerning the general rule that the police cannot be sued in negligence for activities concerning the investigation and suppression of crime, the UK Supreme Court (Lady Hale, Lord Mance, Lord Reed, Lord Hughes and Lord Hodge) hear the case of Mrs Robinson v Chief Constable of West Yorkshire. Mrs Robinson was an innocent bystander in her late 70s who was knocked over and severely injured when 2 policemen and suspected drug dealer collided with her when the police were attempting to effect the arrest of the latter. The Appeal will involve a consideration of the contours of the Supreme Court’s judgment in Michael v South Wales Police where by a majority the court declined to abolish the Hill rule, preferring instead to provide an alternative explanation premised upon the ordinary common law principle of non-liability for failing to control third parties.


The Supreme Court will thus examine a series of important issues which have not been settled by the Michael case: - Did Michael decide that the Hill rule only prevents claims based on a pure omission by the police to prevent damage caused by a failure to control a 3rd party criminal?  What is a pure omission and how is the law to differentiate it from a case like that of Mrs Robinson where the damage is caused directly by the police and the cause of action is based either on a careless positive act or a case consisting of careless acts and omissions?  What are the parameters of the control exception to the omissions principle?


Nicholas Bowen QC is Leading Counsel on behalf of Robinson with David Lemer and Duncan Fairgreave (1 Crown Office Row) Junior counsel. 

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