Smith v Chief Constable of Sussex Police; [2008] UKHL; 50

Main Article Content

Carol Brennan


WHO HAS FIRST CLAIM ON “THE LOYALTY OF THE LAW”?Smith v Chief Constable of the Sussex Police (hereafter Smith) was heard by the House of Lords at the same time as Chief Constable of the Hertfordshire Police v Van Colle and another because they had two uniting factors. First, they both concerned the recurring question of the ambit of police liability in the situation described by Lord Bingham thus: “…if the police are alerted to a threat that D may kill or inflict violence on V, and the police take no action to prevent that occurrence, and D does kill or inflict violence on V, may V or his relatives obtain civil redress against the police, and if so, how and in what circumstances?”2  Secondly, considering the cases together highlighted the wider issue of the relationship between decisions under the Human Rights Act 1998 (hereafter the HRA) and the development of the common law. The Law Lords embarked on a more extensive examination of these issues in Smith and thus that case will be the exclusive focus of this note.  In addition, the study of Smith raises questions regarding proposals for law reform as well as about judicial perceptions of policy priorities. 

Article Details