European Court of Human Rights rules Nuclear Test Veterans challenge inadmissible

Following the dismissal of the limitation appeals of all nine lead claims in the nuclear test veterans group action, by the Supreme Court on 14th March 2012 the veterans complained to the European Court of Human Rights, that the claims which were not time barred could not be continued in the Courts because the adverse cost orders made against the veterans following the limitation hearings had rendered ATE cover unobtainable.  They asserted that this amounted to breach of Articles 2 and 6.  The Court commented that the veterans had been able to “vigorously…pursue their claims as far as the Supreme Court” and therefore it could not be said that they had been denied access to the Courts.  The Court found that, in so far as the denial of legal aid, the costs orders made against their ATE insurers and the limitation judgment of the Supreme Court amounted to restrictions on access to the Court under article 6, they “pursued a legitimate aim” and were “proportionate to that aim” particularly having regard to the fact that the claims “objectively appeared to have no reasonable prospects at all of success.”

The Court therefore held the challenge to be manifestly ill-founded and inadmissible. There can be no appeal from this decision.

The decision is available here:

Charles Gibson QC, Head of Henderson Chambers led the Counsel team for the Ministry of Defence in the Supreme Court which also included Adam Heppinstall as Junior Counsel.  They were assisted by Hannah Wilson and Hannah Curtain.

Adam Heppinstall, Hannah Wilson and Hannah Curtain represented the Ministry of Defence in related war pensions appeals http://www.hendersonchambers.co.uk/resources/news/nuclear-test-veterans-war-pensions-decision which are currently pending before the Upper Tribunal.