A landmark case has seen judges throw out a government appeal by deciding that the Human Rights Act can apply to British troops, even on the battlefield.
The ruling centres on a case brought by the family of Private Jason Smith, who died of heatstroke while serving with the Territorial Army in Iraq in 2003.
The MoD had argued the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) could not be guaranteed in certain situations. It said that in the heat of battle, the UK “could not secure the rights and freedoms which the ECHR seeks to guarantee”. The ruling by three judges, headed by Master of the Rolls, Sir Anthony Clark, could lead to more families wishing to sue the MoD for negligence.
The earlier High Court ruling – upheld by the Court of Appeal’s decision on Monday – had also said inquests of military personnel had to be more wide-ranging and families should be able to access legal aid. The MoD has been given leave to appeal again, to the House of Lords. Defence sources have said the ruling will make it harder for military commanders forced to make rapid and difficult decisions on the battlefield.