Mr Justice KERR recently handed down a judgement in the case of BOSKOVIC v. Chief Constable of Staffordshire Police. The matter was heard in Manchester Administrative Court on the 31st October 2017.
The claimant, now 42, left the employment of Staffordshire Police in 2002 with an ill health pension by reason of permanent disablement consisting of psychiatric injuries. An application was made for an injury on duty award, which was refused by Staffordshire Police following a number of psychiatric reports. The claimant was so unwell that she withdrew her application before it reached PMAB. She left the UK, returning in 2006.
In 2015, after reading an article by IODPA, she submitted an application to Staffordshire Police to have her application reconsidered under Regulation 32(2). In Haworth v. Northumbria Police Authority, regulation 32(2) was described as follows,
96. I am persuaded that Mr Lock must be correct in his submission that regulation 32(2) should be construed as a free standing mechanism as part of the system of checks and balances in the regulations to ensure that the pension award, either by way of an initial award or on a review to the former police officer by either the SMP or PMAB, has been determined in accordance with the regulations and that the retired officer is being paid the sum to which he is entitled under the regulations. It must be the overall policy of the scheme that the award of pension reflects such entitlement and I see no reason why regulation 32(2) should be construed simply as a mechanism to correct mistakes which might nonetheless be able to be corrected by some other means.
97. In other words I am persuaded that in the light of the statutory scheme as a whole, there is no reason not to construe regulation 32(2) as in part a mechanism (and indeed an important mechanism) to correct mistakes either as to fact or as to law which have or may have resulted in an officer being paid less than his full entitlement under the regulations, which cannot otherwise be put right, which is this case.
Staffordshire Police refused her request on the basis that her claim was “frivolous and vexatious”, and the matter eventually ended up in front of Mr Kerr.
Mr Kerr has refused the application on three grounds.
He had difficulty with the wording of regulation 32(2) which states the following, “The police authority and the claimant may, by agreement, refer any final decision of a medical authority who has given such a decision to him”. He believes that there must be an agreement by the PPA and that there is NO obligation to refer a matter back for reconsideration.
Secondly, he accepted that the length of time that had passed made it unlikely that the claimant would get a fair reconsideration, and that Staffordshire Police were within their rights to consider this when making a decision. This was despite the fact that the original medical reports were still on file, and even if the original psychiatrists were no longer available to reconsider the case, regulation 32(3) allows for another SMP to be appointed.
Lastly, whilst it was acknowledged that any subsequent costs i.e. payment of an injury pension award should the applicant be successful cannot be taken into account, Mr Kerr accepted that costs associated with the application and review process itself could be, particularly with regards to the cost to the public purse. Translated, this means that it is acceptable for Staffordshire Police to spend £50,000 of public money fighting this application in a Judicial Review in order to save the huge cost of £750 instructing an SMP for two hours. Of course there would be additional work for HR employees, whose salaries have to be paid anyway.
Mr Kerr gave leave for an appeal and we await “Round Two”.
The full judgement can be read here http://www.bailii.org/cgi-bin/format.cgi?doc=/ew/cases/EWHC/Admin/2018/14.html