Claims for damages could now be made by soldiers who are injured whilst on the battlefield
Legal action has been pursued by relatives of three men killed by roadside bombs whilst on exercise in Iraq.
The families of those killed were trying to bring a claim for damages for negligence on the basis that the Ministry of Defence owed a duty of care under the law of negligence to the soldiers whilst abroad. In this case it was argued that the Ministry of Defence had failed to properly equip the tanks and to give soldiers adequate training.
The Ministry of Defence had argued that the claim should be struck out because the soldiers were not covered by the legislation once they had left their British base. The Ministry of Defence had argued that there was "combat immunity" where troops in action were concerned and it was not "fair, just or reasonable" to impose a duty of care on the Ministry of Defence when soldiers were on the battlefield.
The Supreme Court Judges differed in their view however and said that the families could make a claim for damages for negligence. The Supreme Court Justices ruled that combat immunity did not apply in this case.
Rhiannon Daniel, Solicitor at Trethowans said, "The ruling is interesting and could now lead to more claims being made. However, each case will have to be considered on its merits. Hopefully what this ruling will do is ensure that the Ministry of Defence provide the appropriate protection for soldiers who are on exercise abroad and ensure that all those on operations are adequately protected".