Supreme Court - Atomic Veterans Litigation

28 July 2011

On 28th July 2011 James Dingemans QC will appear in the Supreme Court for the appellant in the oral hearing of AB & ors v. Ministry of Defence (Atomic Veteran Litigation). To see the hearing live (during court time) you could follow this link.

The case is on appeal from the Court of Appeal (Civil Division).

Issues

The issues are: (1) whether the Court of Appeal applied the wrong legal test for knowledge, as detailed in section 14 of the Limitation Act 1980, and (2) whether the wrong legal approach was adopted to the exercise of discretion under section 33 of the Act.

Background

Between October 1952 and September 1958, the British Government carried out 21 atmospheric nuclear tests in Australia and on Christmas Island in the Pacific Ocean. A group of 1011 claimants claim damages for the adverse consequences to health allegedly resulting from exposure to ionising radiation. The defendant denies liability and seeks to rely on the Limitation Act 1980. The parties agreed that there should be a hearing to decide the limitation issues in ten individual lead cases. At that hearing [2009] EWHC 1421 (QB), Foskett J held that all ten claims could proceed. The judge held that five of the claims were not statute-barred, and exercised his discretion to allow the other five to proceed. The Court of Appeal allowed the MOD’s appeal in all the lead cases except that of the late Mr Sinfield and held that all the other lead cases are statute-barred.