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Appeal Court upholds decision to allow 'time-barred' claims for Glasgow bin lorry crash to proceed

Eight relatives of some of the victims of the Glasgow bin lorry crash have cleared a legal hurdle in their fight for compensation. Appeal court judges have dismissed an appeal by Glasgow City Council against a judge’s ruling and upheld the decision that the relatives’ damages action can proceed despite their claims being ‘time-barred’.

The Lord Justice Clerk, Lady Dorrian, joined by Lord Malcolm and Lord Menzies, were told that the eight relatives to those fatally injured in the crash in December 2014 had raised a chapter 43 action for damages against the defenders on 8th December 2017. The summons had been signetted three days earlier but was not called within three months and a day of its passing the signet, meaning the time-limit for lodging the summons expired on the 6th March 2018.

The court heard there was an “administrative error” and, as a result, a fresh summons was lodged on the 19th June 2018 and served to the council the next day. However, the council indicated that the claims in the action were time-barred under s17 and s18 of the Prescription and Limitation (Scotland) Act 1973.

The judge observed that several other claims arising from the bin lorry crash had already been settled and the reclaimers had agreed to settle these on a full liability basis. Among those settled was with the family of 52-year-old victim Gillian Ewing, who agreed an £800,000 compensation deal with the council in January 2019.

The Inner House of the Court of Session upheld the judge’s decision to allow the action to proceed after it emerged that a ‘procedural oversight’ meant the summons was not lodged within the three-month time limit.

Lady Dorrian concluded:

“[The Lord Ordinary] recognised that the reclaimers would suffer prejudice from the loss of the statutory protection, but he was entitled to take into account that this was the only prejudice which would be encountered by the reclaimers.

“We are satisfied that the Lord Ordinary was entitled to exercise his discretion in the way he did, and that the reclaiming motion must fail.”

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