Police Law Blog European Decisions Statutory Materials

Updated: Damages and costs for wrongful arrest and searches

Not a long post – just a short note about damages awarded in a recent police civil action of (1) Stewart (2) Chergui v The Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis [2017] EWHC 921 (QB). Now updated to include the costs decision.

Where a police officer was entitled to conduct a stop-and-search but failed to follow the proper procedure, damages were £250 [11].

Where, during a search of a flat, a police officer pulled a person from a sofa and generally acted with unnecessary force, damages were £350 [13].

Wrongful arrest of a person together with their being handcuffed and detained resulted in damages agreed at £1,300 where there was no use of excessive force [14].

A minor who was wrongfully arrested and handcuffed in a public place was awarded £500 [14].

Two unlawful searches of a premises and a failures to leave a copy of the warrants was awarded £1,200 on the first and £1,500 on the second [16].

It was held that a failure to apologise and to persist in the case was inadequate to justify an award of exemplary damages.

Updated 30.5.17

The costs decision is now reported at [2017] EWHC 1307 (QB).

The judge noted that the jury’s findings in respect to each party were mixed, stating “Each party has won and lost points on all incidents.”

The Claimants succeeded on a number of points, including a significant act of misconduct in the use of excessive force against a young man. Further, it was demonstrated that the system for the checking of material upon which the applications for search warrants was made was flawed. The concession that the arrest of the Second Claimant in the mistaken but genuine belief that he was his elder brother was made late in the course of the hearing. However, the Claimants failed to prove either any degree of malice or the basis for the substantial sums sought for psychological damage.

This trial lasted three weeks. The court awarded £5,400 to the First Claimant and £5,700 to the Second Claimant for claims of £42,614 and 26,570 respectively. The original judgment noted at [18] that “[t]he evidence given by both Claimants was totally unsatisfactory on the question of special damages.”

In those circumstances, the Defendant was ordered to pay 35% of the Claimants’ costs. The Claimants were ordered to pay 65% of the Defendant’s costs. One wonders which bill will be higher.