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12 March 2009 @ 07:06 pm
I'm researching for a debate I'm speaking in tomorrow and I thought the motion would make an interesting talking point here.

The motion is as follows: This house would allow servicemen and women to sue the government for negligence.

Any thoughts?

tyrell on March 12th, 2009 07:14 pm (UTC)
I don't think it should be just servicemen who get to sue. The public should too.

If the government fail to do their homework on the need for war, how winnable the war will be, or the increased danger the war will cause globally, then they deserve to be accountable.

Personally I think it should be a criminal issue, not civil - how many lives (or fine, how much money?) does it take before it becomes criminal negligence?

On a smaller scale, the money wasn't spent to equip the troops or provide suitable armour for vehicles. Should they be able to sue for that?
Little Boy Peepmistressboy on March 12th, 2009 07:44 pm (UTC)
The final point about funds is, I think, what the motion is particularly trying to get at.

On the point of the wider population being able to sue the government over the issue of a misjudged war is, I think, a dangerous one. Surely it would just open the government and the court system up to abuse from minority groups bent on disrupting the course of the war? I think that it would simply create a chanel for frustration against the government for the percieved mistake they've made in Iraq and wouldn't necessarily lead to a constructive solution.
tyrell on March 12th, 2009 07:55 pm (UTC)
Oh, it'll never happen. The government needs to be able to make decisions when there will be groups passionately on either side.

But how complete and damaging a failure must it be before someone is accountable? Is the person making the decision that will kill thousands not culpable in any way if it was based on scanty evidence or greed?
Little Boy Peepmistressboy on March 12th, 2009 07:57 pm (UTC)
Surely this is the remit of laws on war crime rather than, say, negligence on the part of an employer?
tyrell on March 12th, 2009 08:04 pm (UTC)
Well, I'm kinda onto criminal negligence now. Can a PM be so negligent that it's a crime? :)

War crimes. I wish. Maybe if the Freedom of Info act had any teeth.

The motion above presumably depends on the duty of care the government owes soldiers. I wouldn't be surprised if it doesn't owe them one. If there's a clause which says "If the equipment doesn't turn up, and you're suicidally outnumbered, you still have to fight."

Morally, you could make a case that this motion should go through (and I'm a fan of the idea). But I don't think it'll last two seconds in the real world, sadly.
Little Boy Peepmistressboy on March 12th, 2009 08:06 pm (UTC)
That's usually the way with the debates. But you've raised some great point and got the cogs working, so thank you!

I'm looking into the duty of care issue in relation to the case brought against the govt about the Nimrod air crafts that were ruled unfit to fly by a coroner after the deaths of two servicemen.
anghara13anghara13 on March 12th, 2009 07:35 pm (UTC)
I would say that this motion is badly worded, far too vague and simply does not go far enough.

In what context would they be allowed to sue? Because they were posted to a frontline posting and got shot? Er, hello? Line of duty boys and girls, if you don't like the job description, do not sign up for it.

If we're not talking about suing in a military context, then hell yes, the whole population should be able to sue.

But, what kind of negligence are we talking about, because you know, if a terrorist blows something up, are border police negliegent for letting them in? MI5 or Scotland Yard for not knowing what they were planning? Or what?

As I said, this motion is far too vague and genuinely unsupportable in it's current form.
Little Boy Peepmistressboy on March 12th, 2009 07:40 pm (UTC)
There's a fine balance to be struck between a motion that allows enough freedom for a full debate and one that is too vague. The task of the first speaker for the proposition would be to define the very things that you're asking questions about.

You raise a good point about line of duty. The point up for debate here is whether servicemen or women should be allowed to sue the government if they feel that they have not been given the proper equipment.
anghara13anghara13 on March 13th, 2009 08:08 am (UTC)
Good luck with it. Personally I think it won't fly, because any sensible bunch of of people will realise that given the current economic climate, opening the government up to seven figure lawsuits would actually mean bankrupting the country because given the amount of ambulance chasing legal firms out there, EVERYONE would have the right to sue over something (pavement trip? Icy road slip? Sue now and earn millions! No win no fee other terms and conditions may apply).

As much as I like people being free to hold opinions and do their own thing, we really can be a bunch of sheep sometimes, and if so and so did it, we should too, and often we just don't think the consequences through far enough. Mind you, that said, it would keep the solicitors and co busy....
XIV_Gemina: Cuttlefish-2 subduedxiv_gemina on March 12th, 2009 07:53 pm (UTC)
The old ones are the best...
It's an intriguing proposition.
As a putative policy, imo its greatest potential flaw is the oldest of Political conundrums; the old saw Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?
i.e. from among WHOSE numbers will be drawn the 'Judge' and 'Jury' who get to decide whether (or not) the Government's actions (or lack thereof) can be said to fulfil all the criteria necessary to constitute 'negligence'?

For the ordinary punter citizen or serviceman there would be absolutely NO utility at all in having a 'Governmental Negligence Act' as toothless as the current 'Freedom' of Information Act, or as meaningless as the Data Protection Act will become once the Pager-controlled Party Drones troop through the 'Ayes' Lobby to vote the Coroners and 'Justice' Bill into Law.