Bin lorry crash rel­a­tives can take ac­tion for dam­ages

Judge rules to al­low claims made against city coun­cil

The Scotsman - - Around Scotland - By DAVE FIN­LAY

A judge has ruled that dam­ages ac­tions brought 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 re­fused to ex­er­cise his power to al­low the claims against Glas­gow City Coun­cil to 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 would be likely to have sig­nif­i­cant detri­men­tal ef­fects on the pur­suers’ men­tal health.”

The eight rel­a­tives brought the ac­tion for com­pen­sa­tion against the lo­cal au­thor­ity after the bin lorry driven by Harry Clarke left the road in Glas­gow city cen­tre on De­cem­ber 22 in 2014 and trav­elled along pave­ments be­fore com­ing to a halt near Queen Street Sta­tion.

Jacque­line Mor­ton (51) and Stephe­nie Tait (29) from Glas­gow, Erin Mc­quade (18) and her grand­par­ents Jack Sweeney (68) and his 69-yearold wife Lor­raine, from Dum­bar­ton and Gil­lian Ewing (52) all died. Oth­ers were in­jured. The Crown de­cided not to pros­e­cute Clarke and ef­forts by rel­a­tives to bring 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. One has a guardian and an ex­ecu­tor of a rel­a­tive who died is also su­ing.

The rel­a­tives raised an ac­tion against the lo­cal au­thor­ity in De­cem­ber last year but it fell after the sum­mons was not called within three months and a day of it pass­ing the signet. A fur­ther ac­tion was raised in June this year and the lo­cal au­thor­ity main­tained that the present claims were now time barred. Lawyers act- ing for the rel­a­tives ar­gued the court should ex­er­cise its pow­ers to al­low it to pro­ceed.

Lord Do­herty had been told that if the ac­tion was al­lowed to go ahead li­a­bil­ity was not in dis­pute. The judge gave ver­bal rea­sons why he would let it pro­ceed but then pro­duced a writ­ten judg­ment as the coun­cil has raised an ap­peal. 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 be­cause of a pro­ce­dural over­sight which was “a gen­uine er­ror”.

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