So Boris Johnson has won: not the EU referendum, but the Supreme Court case on whether the police are liable for ‘consequential losses’ following the 2011 London riots. The court has ruled in his favour and decided that insurers, not the police, should pay up.
This case has been through the courts several times, as we reported back in February. It all stems from the destruction of the Sony Warehouse in Enfield, where rioters caused damage amounting to £80 million. Under the terms of the 1886 Riot Damages Act, the responsibility for paying for the damage falls to the police.
But the High Court ruled that there was a limit to this liability and the police should not pay for items such as loss of rent or profit. Insurers took this decision to the Appeal Court, where it was overturned. This then meant that the Metropolitan Police – which is funded by the Mayor of London’s office – would have to pay the full amount. So Boris took the matter to the UK Supreme Court – and has won. The Court ruled that the police only had to pay for damage to property, and not for consequential losses.
According to the law firm representing the Met Police, “With many claims for consequential loss dependent on the outcome of this case, today’s Supreme Court decision will likely save the UK taxpayer upwards of £80 million.”
The Riot Damages Act has now been replaced by the new Riot Compensation Bill, which we explained here. In particular, this sets a limit to claims which can be made against the police, thus reducing the burden on the taxpayer. And it should prevent any more tortuous court cases.