Private law claims against public authorities
English public law, unlike some of our continental counterparts such as that of France, or EU Law, does not impose upon the state any liability to compensate those injured by maladministration. Thus, in order to obtain compensation, those who are harmed by maladaministration must bring themselves within the ordinary law of tort.
Though some well-suited torts exist, they are targeted at such a narrow spectrum of state activity, they are of little relevance to most public lawyers. The public lawyer needs a tort that can be applied to any form of executive action, a tort of general application. There are really only two candidates for this: misfeasance in public office and negligence.
The aim of this paper is to look at these two torts and consider why, despite their general application, they offer only limited redress against public authorities.
Author: Phillippa Kaufmann QC
Publication date: March 28 2014