On 17 January the Supreme Court handed down three judgments in cases arising from recent military campaigns. Claims had been brought against the UK Government on matters such as the scope of tort liability and certain Convention rights. The cases focused on the liabilities of the UK government for allegedly tortious acts done either by HM Forces in the course of operations overseas or by foreign governments in which UK officials are alleged to have been complicit.
In the most high profile of the various cases, the Supreme Court upheld a Court of Appeal ruling meaning that former Foreign Secretary Jack Straw faces being sued over allegations of illegal arrest and torture brought by a former Libyan dissident, Abdul-Hakim Belhaj. He alleges that MI6, then under the Ministerial responsibility of Mr Straw, helped the US abduct him in Asia in 2004 to return him and his wife to Tripoli. The BBC reported the outcome under the headline Libyan wins right to sue ex-Foreign Secretary Jack Straw
The Supreme Court will resume sittings on 5 October 2016. We highlighted some of the key upcoming cases last week here.
Five of the current Justices are due to retire by the end of 2018, including the President Lord Neuberger and heavyweights such as Lords Mance and Sumption. There has been criticism about the selection process for Justices – such as whether it will continue to focus on white males of a certain age and background or whether greater diversity will play a part in the process – and in this piece we look at the process, the criticisms and some possible candidates. The answer to ‘why now?’ is that an immediate vacancy was created in the SC with Lord Toulson’s retirement on 22 September 2016.
The Supreme Court is currently in recess and will sit again in early October. Its most recent list of decisions on permissions to appeal, published over the summer break, offers points of interest in the cases it will hear. These may not form as extensive a diet of tort and insurance issues as had been the case in the early part of 2016, with decisions such as: Knauer, Cox, Mohamud, Versloot, Hayward and Moreno. What we see as the key cases, are noted in this blog.