Litigators Secure Significant Ruling in Coroners Inquest

In May 2014, a London pro bono litigation team completed a complex Coroner's inquest hearing into the deaths of two British soldiers, Private Rob Wood and Private Dean Hutchinson, who were killed in a fire when on duty in Afghanistan in 2011. Our team acted for the Hutchinson family and cross-examined 24 witnesses on their behalf. They also made submissions to the Coroner on the applicability of the European Convention of Human Rights and the appropriate conclusion that the Coroner should reach.

Unusually, the Coroner issued four specific recommendations to the Ministry of Defence (MoD) based on a finding that the MoD may have breached the article 2 protection of the right to life under the European Convention of Human Rights. These recommendations address the ways in which the British Army will need to improve safety procedures to prevent further such deaths. The MoD now has 56 days to respond in writing to the Coroner. In his conclusions, read in court on 26 May 2014, the Coroner criticized the MoD for a series of "systematic failures" that had directly led to the deaths of the two soldiers.

The issue received BBC media and national newspaper attention.

Hogan Lovells has a longstanding program with the Royal British Legion, through which we represent, on a pro bono basis, members of the military that have been injured or killed in service, and their families.

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