Henry v Thames Valley Police: CA 14 Jan 2010

The claimant appealed against rejection of his claim for damages after he had been injured when a police car following him ran over his leg. He had been riding a motorcycle and apparently seeking to escape them. He had stopped and was talking to one officer, and placing the cycle on its stand, when the second officer drove the car forward trapping him.
Held: The judge had failed to assess the evidence correctly. Though the officer was entitled to use his car to impede an escape, he was not entitled to do so in a way which injured the person being stopped. The claimant had not faltered but was injured dismounting the motorcycle in an ordinary fashion. He was not given sufficient room, and the officer was primarily liable, with a contributing liability of 40% from the claimant.
‘What matters in a civil action is whether the defendant’s actions were negligent in that they fell below the expected standard of reasonable skill or care. It may be wise to avoid any argument about whether there has been an error of judgment.’ (Pill LJ dissenting on the result)
References: [2010] EWCA Civ 5
Links: Bailii
Judges: Pill, Arden, Smith LJJ
Jurisdiction: England and Wales
This case cites:

  • Applied – Marshall v Osmond CA ([1983] 2 All ER 367, [1983] 1 QB 1034, [1983] 3 WLR 13)
    The plaintiff was passenger in a stolen car seeking to escape the police as they chased. The car was stopped, the plaintiff got out of the car, and was hit by a police car. He sought damages.
    Held: His appeal against dismissal of his claim was . .
  • Cited – Simpson v Peat ([1952] 2 QB 24)
    As to the offence of driving without due care and attention, Lord Goddard said: ‘The expression ‘error of judgment’ is not a term of art; it is in fact one of the vaguest possible description: it can be used colloquially to describe either a . .

(This list may be incomplete)

Last Update: 12 July 2020; scu-Ref: scu.392850