Duty of Care

Duty of Care
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You’ve joined the Armed Forces and you know there is a good chance you are going to are going to be put in harm’s way and it is accepted that injury and worse are part and parcel of the job. Because of this there is a special relationship between the Armed Forces and the nation known as…

…the Military Covenant

Britain has a ‘duty of care’ to its armed forces. This began as an unspoken pact between society and the military, possibly originating as far back as Henry VIII’s reign. The pact was formally codified as a ‘covenant’ in 2000. It is not a law but is reinforced by custom and convention.

Soldiers will be called upon to make personal sacrifices – including the ultimate sacrifice – in the service of the Nation. In putting the needs of the Nation and the Army before their own, they forego some of the rights enjoyed by those outside the Armed Forces.

In return, British soldiers must always be able to expect fair treatment, to be valued and respected as individuals, and that they (and their families) will be sustained and rewarded by commensurate terms and conditions of service.

This mutual obligation forms the Military Covenant between the Nation, the Army and each individual soldier; an unbreakable common bond of identity, loyalty and responsibility which has sustained the Army throughout its history. It has perhaps its greatest manifestation in the annual commemoration of Armistice Day, when the Nation keeps covenant with those who have made the ultimate sacrifice, giving their lives in action.

Common sense dictates it would be impossible to carry out military operations if personnel were shackled by Health & Safety Regulations every time they were ordered into combat and so the concept of Combat Immunity has been codified in law.

Combat Immunity means (Very Briefly):-
A soldier does not owe a fellow soldier a Duty of Care when either (one or other or both) are engaged with an enemy in the course of combat.

The MOD is not under a duty to provide a Safe System of Work for personnel engaged with an enemy in the course of combat.

The term Combat extends to:-

“…all active operations against the enemy in which service personnel are exposed to attack or the threat of attack. It covers attack and resistance, advance and retreat, pursuit and avoidance, reconnaisance and engagement”

“…the planning of and preparation for operations in which the armed forces may come under attack or meet armed resistance…”

“…peacekeeping/policing operations in which service personnel are exposed to attack or the threat of attack…”

HOWEVER. This does not mean you can be exposed recklessly or negligently to danger.

Where your injury has occurred due to the negligence of the MOD or its “Servants or Agents” you are free to seek proper redress.

Such negligent acts can happen during training or carrying out your day to day duties or even on operations. It may happen at home or abroad.

On the following pages you will see the many differing circumstances in which we can assist. Some not as obvious as you may think.

It is not our intention in any way to cause a reduction the effectiveness of the Armed Forces by having officers looking over their shoulders for a lawyer every time they give an order. (Many articles in the media try to paint this scenario.) But we believe the willingness of soldiers to put themselves in harm’s way is a resource which should not be taken for granted and where the harm caused is through a failure in the MOD’s duty of care then they should accept responsibility for that failure.