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20 Jan 21 Back to Listing

Jason Beer QC and Charlotte Ventham succeed in damages appeal in Court of Appeal

The Court of Appeal (Davis, Flaux and Elisabeth Laing LJJ) today handed down judgment in Rees v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis [2021] EWCA Civ 49. 

The appeal concerned the award of damages made to Jonathan Rees by Cheema-Grubb J (see [2019] EWHC 2339 (QB)) in respect of the prosecution of him for the murder of Daniel Morgan on 10th March 1987: see the first instance decision of Mitting J dismissing his claim ([2017] EWHC 273 (QB)) and the Court of Appeal’s decision overturning that decision ([2018] EWCA Civ 1587).

Cheema-Grubb J had awarded Mr Rees basic damages of £87,000, comprising £27,000 for distress arising from the charge of murder brought against him and £60,000 for loss of liberty (he was detained for 1 year and 10 months on remand).

Mr Rees sought to appeal the award for loss of liberty, contending that it was too low and out of line with awards in immigration detention cases where claimants had been detained for comparable periods.  He also sought to argue that the judge erred in not awarding him interest on the award of basic damages (and aggravated damages) either from the date of his release from custody or from the issue of the claim.

The Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal against the award of basic damages for loss of liberty, holding that the judge was justified in finding that the immigration detention cases were not ideal comparators (given the many differences between such cases and those where detention arises in the criminal justice context).

As to the appeal against the Judge’s decision not to award Mr Rees interest, the Court of Appeal examined the principles in the old cases of Saunders v Edwards [1987] 1 WLR 1116 and Holtham v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis (unrep.; 25 November 1987) and held the better course for judges in cases of this kind will usually be to fix an award of damages both to reflect intervening inflation (having regard to the Thompson criteria) and then also to reflect the fact that the award of damages is being calculated by assessing the situation up to and as at the date of judgment (as the Judge had done in this case).  The appeal was therefore dismissed on that ground too.

Earlier stages in the proceedings received extensive coverage, including in the Guardianon the BBC, and in the Daily Mail. Click here to view the judgment.

Jason and Charlotte both specialise in defending civil claims against the police service.