What Is Misfeasance in Public Office?

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Police officers are trusted to protect all members of the community, and so any breach of this trust must be taken extremely seriously. If a law enforcer appears to be guilty of misfeasance in public office by abusing their power or acting inappropriately towards any member of the public, this should be reported immediately, and legal action should be taken. 

DPP Law’s solicitors specialise in taking legal action against the police and can assist you in making a claim of misfeasance in public office by putting together your case and representing you in court.

If you can access electronic or hard copies of any communication you may have had with the officer or officers in question that provides evidence of the behaviour you wish to report, the case we build with you will likely be much stronger. 

Misfeasance in Public Office: Frequently Asked Questions

What is Misfeasance In Public Office?

This term refers to an action taken by a public officer who has knowingly abused their authority or power or behaved recklessly or indifferently to any official limits to that power. It may also refer to either an action or a lack of action that is intended to harm an individual or group or with the knowledge that the individual or group would probably be harmed, or with indifference to their wellbeing. 

Is Misfeasance in Public Office a Crime?

Yes. Misfeasance in Public office is a crime under common law – meaning case-made law – with a history reaching back to the 13th century.

Can You Sue For Misfeasance in Public Office?

Yes. The courts classify Misfeasance in Public Office as a Tort – meaning it is an act or omission which amounts to a civil wrong against a person or people. As such, a party guilty of Misfeasance in Public Office can be sued under civil law.

There are no precise guidelines for the level of compensation you may be able to claim for police misfeasance, but DPP clients have previously achieved amounts over £25,000. 

Is There a Difference between Misfeasance in Public Office & Malfeasance in Public Office?

Both Misfeasance in Public Office and Malfeasance in Public Office are ways of categorising a criminal charge of Misconduct in Public Office. With a misfeasance in public office charge, the accused party’s goal was not illegal – merely the actions they took to accomplish that goal.  

When a person has been accused of malfeasance in public office, however, their actions and their goal were illegal. The Crown Prosecution Service has determined that a crime is described as a Malfeasance when:  

  1. a public officer acting as such
  2. wilfully neglects to perform their duty and/or wilfully misconducts themself
  3. to such a degree as to amount to an abuse of the public’s trust in the officeholder
  4. without reasonable excuse or justification.

What is an example of Misfeasance in Public Office?

In 2013, a West Mercia police officer, Jordan Powell, was jailed after abusing his position to engage in the sexual exploitation of a young woman known as “Clare”. DPP Law’s Iain Gould brought the case for misfeasance against Powell and achieved £25,000 worth of compensation, plus expenses, for “Clare”.

How Do You Prove Misfeasance in Public Office?

To prove that a public official is guilty of misfeasance, the court must determine that the accused: 

  1. Acted illegally. 
  2. Had mens rea – meaning (in this case) that they knew the action was wrong. 
  3. Knew that by committing their actions a third party would suffer.

Legal Advice From DPP Law

If you believe that a law enforcement official is guilty of misfeasance in public office, you may have a strong case for any number of misfeasance claims. Find out how you can pursue this by getting in touch with DPP Law’s expert solicitors today.

As your legal representatives and advisors, DPP Law can offer you:

  • Trustworthy 24-hour specialist legal advice, counsel and support
  • More than 30 years of experience
  • Clarity and transparency throughout

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