“Oi! What you looking at, little rich boy?”

Supreme Court Justice Lord Hodge is very definitely familiar with the legal background to claims arising from the London 2011 riots, if not with rapper Plan B’s 2012 song “Ill Manors” about the riots, which is the source of the title above. [The Guardian’s music blog called it “the greatest British protest song in years”.]

He – Lord Hodge, rather than singer Ben Drew – gave the only judgment yesterday (20 April) in a final appeal which asked whether consequential economic loss suffered as a consequence of riot damage is recoverable, under Victorian legislation enacted in 1886 and which still applies in this field, from the police authority?

His judgment, despite examining the history of riot compensation at common law and in statutes dating back at least 1,000 years* [yes, I do mean one thousand and it is not a typo], is relatively brief. He concludes that “statutory compensation has never sought to mirror the common law, but has created a self-contained regime for compensation for property damage caused by rioters.” In other words, the answer to the principal question in the claim is “No”.

My colleague Caroline Kane provides a very useful analysis of the decision on our news feed here. Her piece also refers to the Riot Compensation Act 2016, which will soon replace the 1886 statute and which not only expressly excludes consequential economic losses but in addition sets a cap of £1 million on riot property damage claims against police authorities. The 2016 Act has already received Royal Assent and should be commenced in the next few months.

* One particular passage in Lord Hodges’ judgment explains that compensation following criminal activity can be traced back to a statute of King Cnut (1016 – 1035), which was itself said to derive from features of the law that existed in the late sixth and early seventh centuries, during the reign of Kentish King Aethelbert.

About the Author

akAlistair Kinley is BLM’s Director of Policy & Government Affairs.

Alistair is responsible for BLM’s engagement with government departments and regulators on policy and public affairs issues and consultations affecting the firm and its customers. He coordinated BLM’s market-facing activities in connection with the Insurance Act 2015 and the consultations which preceded its publication and introduction in Parliament.

He is a member of the Civil Justice Council (CJC), a regular speaker and experienced commentator on legal and procedural reforms and was a contributing editor to the Law Society’s Litigation Funding Handbook (September 2014).

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