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Matthews v Ministry of Defence, Court of Appeal

7 June 2002
The issues

Humans rights – Crown Proceedings Act 1947 – Section 10

The facts

This was a claim in which the Claimant, who had served in the Royal Navy between 1955-1968, was allegedly exposed to asbestos fibres. The MOD denied the claim relying on Section 10 of the Crown Proceedings Act 1947 (now of course repealed, save for claims in respect of matters arising before 15 May 1987). The Claimant argued that Section10 infringed the Claimant’s Article 6 rights. The Judge at first instance found that Section 10 was incompatible (finding also the Claimant was entitled to rely on Article 6 even though this claim arose from facts prior to the coming into force of the 1998 Act – following Wilson, the First County Trust Limited number 2).

The decision

1. Article 6 was concerned with judicial process. There was a distinction between procedural and substantive law. Procedural rules (regulating Court procedure) were subject to Article 6. Other rules which set out what rights and liabilities might arise under Civil Law were substantive rules and were not so subject. The effect of Section 10 was substantive and not procedural. Article 6 was not therefore engaged. There was therefore no imcompatability between Section 10 and Article 6.

Appeal allowed.

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