Judge per­mits claims by vic­tims’ rel­a­tives de­spite le­gal over­sight

Court:

The Press and Journal (Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire) - - NEWS -

A judge has ruled dam­ages ac­tions by rel­a­tives of some of those killed in the Glas­gow bin lorry tragedy can pro­ceed, de­spite a fail­ure in the le­gal process.

Lord Do­herty said they would be “very ma­te­ri­ally prej­u­diced” if he did not ex­er­cise his power to let the claims against Glas­gow City Coun­cil pro­ceed.

The judge said: “The probable con­se­quences would be very sig­nif­i­cant up­set for the pur­suers and ma­te­rial de­lay in ob­tain­ing repa­ra­tion.

“That up­set and de­lay

“Detri­men­tal ef­fects on the pur­suers’ mental health”

would be likely to have sig­nif­i­cant detri­men­tal ef­fects on the pur­suers’ mental health.”

Eight rel­a­tives brought the com­pen­sa­tion ac­tions against the coun­cil af­ter the bin lorry driven by Harry Clarke left the road in Glas­gow city cen­tre on De­cem­ber 22 2014.

Those who died were Erin Mc­Quade, 18, her grand­par­ents Jack Sweeney, 68, and his 69-year-old wife Lor­raine, from Dum­bar­ton, Stephe­nie Tait, 29, and Jac­que­line Mor­ton, 51, both from Glas­gow, and Gil­lian Ewing, 52, from Ed­in­burgh. Oth­ers were in­jured.

The Crown did not pros­e­cute Clarke and ef­forts by rel­a­tives for a pri­vate pros­e­cu­tion were re­fused.

The eight were granted an or­der at the Court of Ses­sion in Ed­in­burgh pre­vent­ing pub­li­ca­tion of de­tails lead­ing to their iden­ti­fi­ca­tion.

The rel­a­tives raised an ac­tion against the coun­cil last De­cem­ber but it fell as the sum­mons was not called in time.

The lat­est ac­tion was raised in June with lawyers for the rel­a­tives ar­gu­ing the court should use its pow­ers and al­low it to pro­ceed – de­spite the coun­cil’s argu- ment that it was time barred. It was agreed that de­lay may have a sig­nif­i­cant ef­fect on the rel­a­tives’ psy­cho­log­i­cal con­di­tion and par­tic­u­larly with one who has de­vel­oped se­ri­ous mental health problems.

It was also agreed that while the sum­mons was lodged with the court a call­ing slip was not pre­sented due to a pro­ce­dural over­sight that was “a gen­uine er­ror”.

A clin­i­cal psy­chol­o­gist who as­sessed some of the rel­a­tives, said they were strug­gling with the im­pact of the deaths and the stress of the con­tin­u­ing le­gal case.

Lord Do­herty said the fail­ure to have the sum­mons in the ini­tial ac­tion called in time was an over­sight but the rel­a­tives’ law- yers had other­wise acted “in an ex­em­plary way”.

The judge said the rel­a­tives’ only al­ter­na­tive, if the ac­tion did not pro­ceed, was to sue their solic­i­tors for pro­fes­sional neg­li­gence.

And while this was “very likely to suc­ceed”he said they would have to find new rep­re­sen­ta­tion in a process that was likely to be “dif­fi­cult and chal­leng­ing”.

AF­TER­MATH: Fire crews at the scene of the cat­a­strophic Glas­gow bin lorry crash, which hap­pened on De­cem­ber 22 2014

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