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Kimathi & Ors v Foreign and Commonwealth Office [2018] EWHC 2066 (QB)

In what may be one of the longest civil High Court trials (223 days), on 2 August 2018, Stewart J handed down judgment in the first of 25 test cases to be heard to conclusion in the Kenyan Emergency Group Litigation. This claim consists of claims for damages against the UK by over 40,000 Kenyans. The claimants allege abuse during the Kenyan Emergency in the 1950s. The State of Emergency had been declared as part of the campaign against the terrorist group called Mau Mau in the period 1952 to 1960.

The court has, in this judgment, dismissed the first test case claim. Stewart J declined to exercise his discretion under section 33 Limitation Act 1980 to extend time by some 56 years. The decision is a significant one which provides detailed guidance for the trial of ‘stale’ claims especially in circumstances where a defendant contends that by reason of lapse of time it has sustained such prejudice that there cannot be a fair trial on the merits. 

Simon Murray (AG’s A Panel) has acted since 2016 as part of the counsel team for the FCO and was led by Guy Mansfield QC and Neil Block QC.