When the Human Rights Act 1998 was incorporated into UK law, the home secretary at that time, Jack Straw, described it as a "historic day".
This piece of legislation – arguably one of the most important in this country – has had a dramatic effect on our society. Although it has also faced controversy, many believe this Act represented a huge milestone in human and civil rights.
The Human Rights Act certainly has noble goals; prohibiting such actions as slavery, torture, and enforcing the right to a fair trial. Moreover, this document also makes it clear that human beings have the "right to life".
In Article 2 of this legislation, the Act states, "Everyone's right to life shall be protected by law. No one shall be deprived of his life intentionally save in the execution of a sentence of a court following his conviction of a crime for which this penalty is provided by law".
This means, under most circumstances, governments cannot take away a person's life. Moreover, where there is a hazard which places the public at risk, this order may require authorities to implement suitable procedures to prevent individuals from being harmed.
Article 2 can be interpreted in a number of different ways. However, although the Human Rights Act received Royal Assent in 1998, it may surprise people to learn that members of the armed forces did not fully have the right to life until 2013.
The right to life and military personnel
Previously, when soldiers were deployed on military operations, Article 2 of the Human Rights Act did not apply. Therefore, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) was effectively granted "combat immunity" – meaning families of soldiers killed on battlefields may have been unable to make army compensation claims.
In many cases, this idea also applied to acts of negligence. For example, if a member of the armed forces sustained fatal or serious personal injuries due to situations such as being provided with faulty equipment, inadequate training, or coming under friendly fire during an operation, those adversely affected could have been prevented from seeking military compensation.
However, in 2013, the Supreme Court decreed that military personnel had the right to life while participating in combat operations. This judgement was expected to have a number of serious ramifications for the MoD, such as requiring the organisation to reasonably ensure the wellbeing of its soldiers outside army bases.
Commenting on the matter, a solicitor stated, "It is essential that we recognise the human rights and dignity of our soldiers. How else can we expect them to uphold the fundamental human rights of those they come across in conflict if they themselves are not protected?"
Moreover, it was believed this ruling would persuade many families to claim compensation against the MoD. Fortunately, the solicitors at Seth Lovis & Co have a wealth of experience in helping those adversely affected by military accidents receive damages – and they may be able to assist you as well.
Army compensation claims through Seth Lovis & Co
If you or a loved one has been adversely affected by an act of negligence in the armed forces, our team of specialist solicitors could help you claim compensation. Please call us today on 0370 218 4025 or complete an online enquiry form to find out more information.