From: Lee, James <>
Date: 28/01/2015 10:33:09 UTC
Subject: UK Supreme Court on Police Liability in Negligence
Attachments: Michael v South Wales Police - Highlights.pdf

Dear Colleagues,


The UK Supreme Court has this morning confirmed the general principle that the police do not owe a duty of care to individual members of the public (broadly, the “Hill” principle, although there is some criticism of elements of Lord Keith’s judgment from the Hill case), and that they did not owe a duty to the particular victim in this case, who was murdered by her former partner. She had called the police after he threatened her, but because of serious failings by two police forces, the police did not arrive as soon as they should have. Her family sought to sue the police in both negligence and under the Human Rights Act 1998.


In a 5:2 split, Lord Toulson gives the majority judgment, while Lord Kerr and Lady Hale dissent. The court was unanimous that the claim under the Human Rights Act should be allowed to proceed. The full judgment is here There are specific observations about this area of the law, but both the majority and minority both purport to be proceeding from basic negligence principles. (One might note that, compared to many other cases, the Supreme Court does not engage in the judgments with as much academic literature as they might have).


Our students here at King’s are currently working on an essay on this area – to that end, I have quickly gone through the case and picked out what initially appear to be some key passages and put them on some slides – without pretending to be comprehensive, I have attached them in case they might be of some use to members too.


Best wishes,




James Lee

Senior Lecturer in Private Law

The Dickson Poon School of Law
King's College London
London WC2R 2LS




Tel: +44 (0)20 7848 2363