Police liability case – High Court judgment

January 27, 2020

On 23 January Mrs Justice Elizabeth Laing handed down an important police liability judgment in the High Court in London.

In Transport Arendonk v Chief Constable of Essex, the Claimant, a Dutch haulage company was represented by Richard Barraclough QC leading road transport/haulage specialist barrister and Simon Clarke of Smith Bowyer Clarke Road Transport Lawyers.

The claimant had been contracted to transport a valuable cargo of designer sports material from Belgium to the United Kingdom. Having arrived in the UK and driven to Essex the driver was arrested for a drink drive offence. The pleaded case was that the officers who arrested him refused to permit him to contact the operator so that the load might be safeguarded. It was left over night in a remote area known to be at risk from specialist thieves. The Chief Constable applied to strike the claim out. The application was refused in the court below. The Chief Constable appealed to Laing J who dismissed the appeal.

Her judgment provides a detailed review of the legal principle and in particular Dorset Yacht v Home Office, Alexandrou v Oxford, Michael v Chief Constable of South Wales, Robinson v Chief Constable of West Yorkshire, CN v Poole Borough Council and the academic paper by Tofaris and Steel “Negligence Liability for Omissions and the Police”.