Wed, 23 Feb 2022
In R (White) v Police Medical Appeal Board  EWHC 385 (Admin) the High Court today handed down guidance on the test to be applied when police officers claim for injury awards under the Police (Injury Benefit) Regulations 2006 (“2006 Regulations”) following an injury received in the execution of duty.
The Claimant was a police constable who had suffered a knee injury following “horseplay” with a colleague in a police station during a night shift in 2007. Her knee deteriorated and she eventually received early ill health retirement as a result of the injury.
The Claimant claimed for an additional award under the 2006 Regulations on the basis that the injury was received in the execution of duty. Under regulation 6(2)(a) of the 2006 Regulations there is a deeming provision that an injury received “while on duty” should be treated as one received in the execution of duty. There was no dispute that the injury was received whilst the Claimant was on duty but she accepted that the injury had not resulted from her actually executing her duties as a police constable (e.g. arresting a suspect).
The Claimant was initially denied an injury award and appealed this decision to the Police Medical Appeal Board (“PMAB”). However, the PMAB rejected the appeal. It said that even though the injury was received while on duty it was not received in the execution of duty and so no award was payable.
The Claimant challenged this decision by way of judicial review in the Administrative Court.
Following a full hearing on 15 February 2022 before Mr Justice Ritchie the Court upheld the claim and quashed the PMAB’s decision.
The Court accepted the Claimant’s argument that the test for an injury received while on duty did not require any additional element that the injury was received whilst the officer was also executing her duties. The Court agreed that the PMAB had misunderstood the way the deeming provision operates based on a misinterpretation of the principles which apply to injury awards arising out of cases of psychiatric injury, where a temporal connection cannot be identified.
The Court was also heavily critical of the Home Office guidance on the 2006 Regulations which it considered contributed to the PMAB’s confusion. However, as the Home Secretary had refused the invitation to join the proceedings the Court did not go on to make any specific findings on the unlawfulness of the guidance.
The decision is a welcome clarification of how the deeming provision operates in cases of physical injury received while on duty. As the judge commented, police officers do a difficult and dangerous job and Parliament has recognised this by providing a scheme to compensate those officers who are injured in the line of duty. The scheme provides that it is a sufficient, but not necessary, condition that the officer is on duty when the injury is received; he does not need to be also executing his duties at the time.
It is hoped that the decision will ensure that future iterations of the PMAB will not deny officers the injury benefits that they are rightfully entitled to.
Jack Feeny represented the Claimant.
A copy of the judgment can be found here
No5 Barristers' Chambers has a team of barristers who specialise in police law and police pensions claims, whether that is in the High Court, Crown Court, Misconduct Hearing, Employment Tribunal or PMAB hearing. Any enquiries should be directed to Chris Norman or Craig Wain.