Published in Issue 1, September 2017

The near immunity enjoyed by public bodies has come under scrutiny in recent years. The question of whether the exclusion of liability of such bodies exists wholly or merely operates in small pockets looms large and the answer is one that tends to be obfuscated in judicial decisions. The courts often refrain from holding public bodies to account and endorse a defensive practice argument to do so. Elusive concepts of proximity cloud judgements and highlight how a defence premised on anecdote and assumption has taken prevalence in the minds of the highest courts of the land. The current liability regime which potentially imposes liability on Ambulance Trusts, but exempts the Police and Fire Services from any similar duty of professional rescue is unjust and makes little practical or doctrinal sense. Various attempts to address this apparent lacuna in the law have been made in order to unveil what is usually shielded from the public gaze in averments of negligence against public bodies but the law on omissive conduct remains a maze of barely compatible decisions.