Bin lorry crash relatives can take action for damages
Judge rules to allow claims made against city council
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”.