Strict Liability for Police Nonfeasance? The Kinghan Report on the Riot (Damages) Act 1886
26 Pages Posted: 2 May 2014
Date Written: May 2014
The Riot (Damages) Act 1886 imposes a no‐fault obligation on police forces to compensate owners of property damaged in rioting. Following the riots across England in 2011 an independent Home Office review, the Kinghan Report, concluded that the fundamental principle of the Act should be retained, while the machinery should be modernised. The Report conceives of the Act as a useful, if highly unusual, compensation scheme that may ease socio‐economic problems in riot‐prone areas. This article questions that position. Strict liability offers potential advantages in contentious claims against public authorities, providing an incentive for the police to perform their duty to keep the peace while averting the questioning of police decision‐making that claims in negligence would inevitably require. The best alternative to negligence liability might not be ‘no liability’ (the general position now at common law), or liability based on ‘serious fault’ (as the Law Commission proposed in 2008), but liability without fault.
Keywords: Tort, Compensation, Public Authorities, Strict Liability, Riot (Damages) Act 1886, Kinghan Report (2013)
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