Soldiers' families can sue Ministry of Defence, supreme court rules

Court ruling enables families of three soldiers killed in Iraq to sue MoD for negligence because soldiers have a ‘right to life’

Families of three soldiers who were killed in Iraq in poorly-armoured Land Rovers – and those killed in a friendly fire incident – can sue the Ministry of Defence for negligence because soldiers have a “right to life,” the supreme court ruled on Wednesday.

The ruling means soldiers heading into battle overseas can claim protection under article 2 of the Human Rights Act – a decision the defence secretary Philip Hammond said could leave operational decisions in combat zones open to “the uncertainty of litigation”.

The court ruled that the doctrine of combat immunity – which prevents soldiers from claiming compensation for injuries received in combat except under official schemes – should be interpreted “narrowly” and should not be extended to cover “the planning of and preparation for active operations against the enemy”.

The ruling is a victory for the families of servicemen killed in Iraq – who are likely to be able to claim payouts of about £250,000 each. Many have spent years trying to find out what happened to their relatives and are challenging the army over the …read more  

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