Combat Immunity & Duty of Care

The military duty of care solicitors at DPP Law are experienced in claims for injuries sustained during combat. We will provide you with transparent and compassionate support throughout proceedings. Contact us today on 0333 200 5859.

The work of the armed forces is often dangerous as a rule. Because of this, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) cannot be held liable for certain injuries resulting from combat. This is because the body is protected by what is known as “combat immunity”.

However, this immunity does not always apply. The MoD can only evade legal action if the claimant sustained injury as a direct result of combat. They cannot claim combat liability if their failure to maintain proper practice has caused your injury or the injury of a loved one.

If you can prove that the MoD has failed in their duty of care towards you or a member of your family, it is likely that you will have a case. It is vital that justice is served if you have not been properly protected during your time in the military.

For example, if you’ve had to use faulty or inadequate equipment in battle and received injury as a result, negligence claims may be brought. This will afford you peace of mind and can help you to access any financial support or rehabilitation opportunities you may require.

How our combat immunity solicitors can help you

DPP Law’s armed forces solicitors have great experience in fighting for compensation where the MoD has claimed combat immunity.

We know that you may find claiming against the UK military stressful or upsetting, so we will handle your case with compassion and understanding. You are within your rights to be compensated, and your career should never be affected by your claim.

We are well-versed in the circumstances under which combat immunity may be applied. As such, we will look into your situation in-depth and explain whether you have a case.

If we have reason to believe that combat immunity is not applicable, we will help you gather evidence and fight your case.

You should receive compensation covering any loss or damage resulting from your injury. This may include costs relating to any modification to your home or lifestyle and any loss of work. Should you be claiming for a loved one who has died in combat, funeral costs may be covered and you may receive:

  • A Bereavement Grant of up to £37,500
  • Survivors’ Guaranteed Income Payment (SGIP)
  • Child payments

Our military solicitors can also advise you regarding:

We can also provide help and guidance relating to:

Combat immunity vs duty of care and the human rights act

There are many possible scenarios in which arguments may be made for both the application of the doctrine of combat immunity and the liability of the MoD.

Notable cases – including that of Smith v Ministry of Defence (2013) – have provided legal precedents. The case involved three sets of claims, one of which focused on the deaths of two soldiers in a “Snatch” Land Rover that came into contact with an IED (improvised explosive device).

The mother of one of the soldiers claimed that the vehicle was not combat tested nor designed for the purpose for which it was used. It was also not meant to be driven on the terrain in question.

The decision in Smith V Ministry of Defence was that combat immunity was not applicable, and the soldiers’ families won the case. It was ruled that the equipment used being unsuitable for the task at hand.

Furthermore, Schedule 1, Article 2 of the Human Rights Act 1998 was cited on behalf of the claimants. It was found that the MoD had breached the soldiers’ right to life through failure to supply the correct equipment. It was another legal precedent, meaning the European Convention on Human Rights could be used in this way in future military cases.

The supreme court also decided that the planning and preparation stages of combat fall within the scope of duty of care. Claimants can argue that they or their loved one received injury due to negligence in these stages as well as in the heat of battle.

Arguments were made by Philip Hammond, Defence Secretary at the time, that the threat of litigation would prevent military commanders from effectively doing their jobs.

However, the application of human rights and the MoD’s duty of care goes a long way to ensure that members of the armed forces are properly protected as they do their duty. It is important that service personnel and their loved ones can be compensated should this fail.

Before this precedent was set, combat immunity covered a far wider range of cases – so it was much more difficult for injured parties to claim compensation. This was sometimes despite a lack of duty of care being strongly evidenced.

The Chilcot enquiry into the Iraq war, for example, came to the conclusion that provision for the conflict was “wholly inadequate”.

The case of Smith V MoD narrowed the reach of combat immunity to decisions made in the heat of battle. An injured party can now claim under the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme (AFCS) if they are able to prove that:

  • The equipment you received for use in battle was incorrect or defective
  • Certain systems upon which you were relying were unsuitable for use
  • You did not receive suitable training for the operation in question

You may also be able to make a civil personal injury claim.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What if I can’t claim because of combat immunity?

Combat immunity prevents members of the armed forces from making a civil claim against the MoD if it is found that the body has adhered to its duty of care. It does not mean that you cannot claim under the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme.

Whether you were injured in combat or in training, it is likely that you will receive a payout via this approach. You may claim under the AFCS whether you are still a member of the armed forces or not. Speak to our solicitors to find out whether you are eligible to make a claim.

We know that you may be claiming against the MoD at a stressful and emotionally difficult time. Our solicitors will handle your case with the utmost care and sensitivity.

For further information about combat immunity and the MoD’s duty of care – or to ask about a claim – contact DPP Law today.

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