Two Members of Chambers Achieve Memorable Success in the First Lead Cases Trial in the Police Overtime Claims Litigation
Today Mrs Justice Heather Williams DBE in the High Court (KBD) upheld the two constable lead claims in the Police Overtime Claims Litigation ('the POCL') which originally comprised over 950 claims. The lead constable claimants brought claims for statutory debt and damages for breach of statutory duty for out of hours work (including on rostered rest days, annual leave days and public holidays) which they had performed in their duties as Covert Human Intelligence Source ("CHIS") Handlers in the Metropolitan Police. Sadie Crapper and Philippe Kuhn acted on behalf of the successful constable claimants, led by Martin Westgate KC of Doughty Street Chambers.
The 3-week trial, part of which was held in private, centred on the interpretation of complex provisions of the Determinations concerning pay and allowances made under the Police Regulations 2003, and covered a remarkable array of arguments from statutory construction to breach of statutory duty to equitable defences such as laches and acquiescence.
The judgment provides an authoritative definition of the meaning of 'on call' for police officers. The Defendant had argued that being on call was a pre-determined requirement which conversely meant that if the chief officer chose not to designate an officer as 'on call', their managers could rely on them to perform an on call function without paying the on call allowance of £15, now £20, per day. Mrs Justice Williams rejected that argument. In summary, she held that officers were on call when they are required to be available to perform their duties outside their rostered tours of duty and whether they are required to do so is to be assessed by reference to the substance of their duties, rather than designation.
A lead claim brought by a CHIS Controller was also successful in part.
The successful claimants have time to agree the judgment sum, interest and the effect of the incidence of taxation with the defendant failing which the parties will return to Court for a further hearing to resolve any outstanding matters.
Claims in the POCL have been running since 2015 following Sadie and Martin's earlier success in the Court of Appeal in Allard v Chief Constable of Devon and Cornwall Constabulary  EWCA Civ 42. Sadie has since led an internal team of juniors at 39 Essex, including Nicola Kohn, Jonathan Darby, Caroline Allen, Gethin Thomas, Philippe Kuhn and Daniel Kozelko, on the claims. The lead claims of undercover officers in the POCL are due to commence in January 2024.
Click here to read the full judgment.