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Relatives of soldiers killed fighting in Iraq today began the latest phase of their fight for the right to launch damages claims against the Government.
Families want to sue for negligence and to make claims under human rights legislation.
The Supreme Court began hearing arguments from lawyers representing relatives and counter-arguments from the Ministry of Defence (MoD) at a hearing in London.
Judges in the Court of Appeal and in the High Court have already considered the issues.
In October 2012, appeal judges said relatives could bring negligence claims but not claims under human rights legislation
In June 2011, a High Court judge had come to the same conclusions.
A panel of seven Supreme Court justices is expected to analyse arguments over the next four days.
Lawyers today began by outlining arguments relating to human rights legislation and are due to debate negligence issues later in the week.
Justices are expected to reserve judgment and deliver a ruling later in the year.
If given the go-ahead by the Supreme Court, relatives would be entitled to launch damages claims in the High Court.
Speaking to Daybreak about the court battle between relatives of soldiers killed in Iraq, and the MoD, Army Captain Patrick Hennessey said it "is right the most senior judges are making these decisions".
Families will today ask the UK's senior judges to rule that they can bring damages claims against the Government, under the human rights legislation.
He added that the questions being asked this week were "complicated and profound".
Debi Allbutt has spent ten years trying to hold the MoD to account over the death of her husband, in March 2003.
Corporal Stephen Allbutt died in a “friendly fire” incident in Basra.
Debi felt there could have been better training for the use of equipment.
She said: "In every day life our employers have a duty of care to all their employees, so what makes the MoD any different?"
Following the deaths of a number of soldiers, a group of families started legal action, judges have heard.
- Corporal Stephen Allbutt, 35, of Sneyd Green, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire
- Trooper David Clarke, 19, of Littleworth, Staffordshire
- Soldiers Dan Twiddy, of Stamford, Lincolnshire
- Andy Julien, of Bolton, Greater Manchester
Soldiers Corporal Stephen Allbutt and Trooper David Clarke died after a Challenger 2 Tank was hit by another Challenger 2 Tank.
Soldiers Dan Twiddy and Andy Julien were injured in the same incident.
- Private Phillip Hewett, 21, of Tamworth
Private Hewitt died in July 2005 after a Snatch Land Rover was blown up.
Lawyers said similar explosions claimed the lives of:
- Private Lee Ellis, 23, of Wythenshawe, Greater Manchester, in February 2006, and Lance Corporal Kirk Redpath, 22, of Romford, Essex, in August 2007
A panel of justices would analyse three central legal issues, according to a Supreme Court spokesman:
- Whether British soldiers killed during military operations abroad were within the jurisdiction of the UK for the purposes of Article 1 - which protects the right to life - of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR)
- Whether the MoD owed a duty to the deceased soldiers pursuant to Article 2 - which imposes a duty on authorities to protect the right to life by law - of the ECHR
- Whether complaints of negligence are covered by the doctrine of combat immunity and whether it would be fair to impose a duty of care on the MoD
The families of soldiers who died in Iraq will today ask judges to rule that they can bring damage claims against the Government, under the human rights legislation.
- Families started legal action as a result of the deaths of a number of British soldiers following the American-led invasion of Iraq in 2003
- In June 2011, a High Court judge had come to the same conclusions
- In October 2012, appeal judges said relatives could bring negligence claims but not claims under human rights legislation
Relatives of soldiers killed in Iraq will today ask the UK's senior judges to rule that they can bring damages claims against the Government.
Lawyers have said the families want the right to sue for negligence to make claims under human rights legislation.
The hearing, which is expected to last four days at the Supreme Court, will analyse arguments from lawyers representing relatives and counter-arguments from the Ministry of Defence (MoD).
Relatives say the MoD failed to provide armoured vehicles or equipment which could have saved lives, and should pay compensation.
But the MoD says decisions about battlefield equipment are for politicians and military commanders.