The High Court has handed down a judgment today which should make substantial changes to the way in which police injury pensions are assessed. It may also lead to former police officers who were refused a police injury pension having the right to have that decision re-examined.
The key point arising from the decision of Mr Justice Lane in R (Evans) v Chief Constable of Cheshire is that the clinical findings of a Selected Medical Practitioner (“SMP”) which lead to a police officer being determined to be permanently disabled are binding in any later application for a police injury pension. Accordingly, the SMP who is instructed to assess whether a former officer is entitled to an injury pension is required to accept the clinical findings reached within the earlier SMP decision. The question for the second SMP is whether the medical conditions found by the first SMP were caused by the police officer’s duties and, if so the degree of disablement. However the SMP is not entitled to revisit the causes of the former officer’s permanent disability.
This decision, in effect, overturns the case of Doubtfire (2010). In that case the High Court held that a later SMP was bound by the final decision of the earlier SMP on permanent disability but was not bound by the reasoning which led to that decision. The Evans decision puts an end to the possibility that a SMP will find that a police officer is permanently disabled due to a medical condition which is clearly duty related, such as PTSD only to find that the former officer is denied an injury pension because a later SMP disagrees with that diagnosis.
Ron Thompson of Haven Solicitors who brought the case on behalf of Mr Evans said:
“This decision confirms that the medical causes of permanent disability are assessed once and only once. That approach is in line with the decision of the Court of Appeal in Metropolitan Police Commissioner v Laws. It may well lead to former officers who have been denied a police injury pension as a result of a second SMP decision being entitled to have that decision reconsidered under the Regulation 32(2) process.
It also probably means that an officer who disagrees with the medical basis for an SMP decision on permanent disability is entitled to appeal that decision to the PMAB.”
Mr Evans was represented by David Lock QC of Landmark Chambers.