Help - Claims without any Solicitor

F a i r f o r d  C o a c h  A c t i o n

HOME - ABOUT - CASE - HELP - NEWS - PRESS - EVENTS - LINKS


Bringing a compensation claim against Gloucestershire Police for being "prevented from protesting on Saturday 22 March 2003" without a solicitor

This note explains what you should do if you want to bring a compensation claim against Gloucestershire police but you have decided not to instruct a solicitor, or are unable to instruct one at this stage. It is a general guide only and is not intended as a substitute for legal advice on any particular person's case. It does not apply to people who have instructed Bindmans provided they have signed either a form applying for Community Legal Service Funding (an APP1 or MEANS form) or a Conditional Fee Agreement. If you are planning to sign one of these documents and have not done so yet, or have signed but not returned it yet, then you should contact us immediately as otherwise we will definitely not be able to help you.

What can I claim for?
Basically, if you were on one of the three coaches returned to London you can bring claims against the Police for:

  1. compensation for 'false imprisonment'; and
  2. 'just satisfaction' compensation for breach of your human rights to assemble (Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights) and freedom of speech (Article 10).

These claims will both be based on the House of Lords test case, R (on the application of ) v. Chief Constable of Gloucestershire [2006] UKHL 55 (13 November 2006). You can download the House of Lords' ruling here:
http://www.bailii.org/cgi-bin/markup.cgi?doc=/uk/cases/UKHL/2006/55.html&query=laporte&method=boolean

It may be that you have other potential legal claims you could bring against the Police arising out of the events that day (some people were assaulted, for example; some had property seized that was not returned). This note does not discuss these possibilities. If you think you may have another sort of claim, it is in your interests to seek advice about this from a solicitor.

Seeking help
It is also in your interests to seek a solicitor's help with bringing your claim, or pursuing it (if you bring it by yourself initially). That is because legal claims of this kind are not straightforward at all, and there are likely to be a number of hurdles any returned passenger will need to overcome before they are offered compensation for anything. The Legal Services Commission helpline will be able to identify solicitors close to you who specialise in claims against the police. The number is 0845 345 4 345. Many of these solicitors can help people on a legally aided basis.

Bringing a claim without a solicitor's help
Notwithstanding this advice, if you do want to bring your own claim, there are five important things you should note.

First, claims for false imprisonment need to be filed with a Court within six years less one day from when the person affected was imprisoned. If you were on one of the returned coaches, that means issuing your claim by 21 March 2009 at the very latest.

Second, claims for just satisfaction damages for breach of your human rights normally must be filed with a Court within a year of the human rights breach unless the Court decides that special reasons mean a later claim should proceed. As part of the Laporte test case, it was agreed that the Police would accept a claim brought by any other returned passenger should not be rejected because it was filed outside the normal time limits if it was filed within three months of the final court order in the test case. That final order was made on 6 March 2008. Unless a further extension is agreed (and Bindmans is now negotiating for its own clients only, not the returned coach passengers as a whole), this means that a claim for just satisfaction damages for breach of your human rights should be issued in a Court on 5 June 2008 at the very latest. A false imprisonment claim can and should be made at the same time, on the same 'Claim Form' (see below). If you do not bring your human rights claim by then, there is a very high risk that the Police will argue that it is out of time and should not be heard by the Court. They are also likely to seek their legal costs from you if they win this argument.

Third, the 'Defendant' to the claim will be the Chief Constable of Gloucestershire Police. His address is:


Chief Constable of Gloucestershire Police
Gloucestershire Constabulary
County Police Headquarters
No. 1 Waterwells
Waterwells Drive
Quedgeley
Gloucester
GL2 2AN.

Fourth, to bring a legal claim, you need to complete a special form called a Claim Form, stating your details, those of the Defendant, what you are claiming for and how much compensation you are claiming. The form can be found on the internet here:
http://www.hmcourts-service.gov.uk/courtfinder/forms/n208_1000.pdf

Information about what you need to do with it (filing with a Court and serving on the Defendant) can be found here:
http://www.hmcourts-service.gov.uk/infoabout/claims/index.htm

and a Court fee will be payable unless you are eligible for an exemption. The amount will depend on the amount of compensation claimed. Information about Court Fees is here:
http://www.hmcourts-service.gov.uk/infoabout/fees/county.htm

Fifth and last, even if you do not want to, or cannot, instruct a solicitor, it is still very much in your interests to seek advice on completing the claim form and filing it with Court. You may be able to get this from a Law Centre local to you, or a Citizen's Advice Bureau, see:
http://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/index/getadvice#txt_getadvice_header-Anchor-search

Bindmans LLP
29 May 2008