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Matthews v Ministry of Defence, House of Lords

18 February 2003
The issues

Human Rights – Crown Proceedings Act 1947 – Section 10.

The facts

This was an Appeal from the Court of Appeal on the part of the Claimant. The Claimant had served in the Royal Navy between 1955 and 1968 and was allegedly exposed to asbestos fibres. The Ministry of Defence denied the claim, relying on Section 10 of the Crown Proceedings Act 1947. That Act was subsequently repealed, save for claims in respect of matters arising before 15th May 1987. The Claimant argued that Section 10 infringed his Article 6 rights. The Court of Appeal found that Article 6 was concerned with the Judicial process. There was a distinction between procedural and substantive law. Procedural rules were subject to Article 6. Other Rules setting out what rights and liabilities might arise under Civil Law were substantive Rules and were not subject to Article 6. The Court of Appeal found that there was therefore no incompatibility between Section 10 and Article 6.

The decision

The Appeal would be dismissed. Section 10 was not a mere procedural bar. It was not a procedural limitation and was not incompatible with Article 6.

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