What is misfeasance in public office?

What is misfeasance in public office?

Misfeasance in public office refers to action taken by a public officer where they have knowingly misused or abused their power or authority and willingly acted to cause harm to an individual or group.

In order for an act to be considered misfeasance, it requires an element of bad faith. It is not enough that a public officer made a mistake, they must have deliberately exercised their authority to cause harm or knew that doing so would cause harm to another.

Who are public officers?

There is no set list of who constitutes a public officer in the UK, however it can include:

  • Members of the police force
  • Members of the armed forces
  • Government ministers
  • Local government officials
  • Immigration officers
  • Prison officers

What is the difference between misfeasance in public office and misconduct in public office?

Misfeasance in public office is a civil action for compensation as a result of the public officer’s misuse of their power and authority. Whereas misconduct in public office refers to a criminal offence which can result in prosecution and sentencing.

What is an example of a misfeasance?

Hillsborough Misfeasance litigation claims

We at Saunders are the lead solicitors representing individuals in the Hillsborough Victims’ Misfeasance Litigation, which arises from the police cover up following the Hillsborough Disaster of 1989 in which 97 Liverpool fans died.

The misfeasance in this case occurred when officers of South Yorkshire Police and West Midlands Police intentionally concealed the true circumstances of the Hillsborough disaster by creating a false narrative of events leading up to the tragedy to deflect blame and liability away from the police. Statements were doctored, witnesses pressurised, and the truth suppressed. The evidence pointed to abuse on an industrial scale by police forces who have subsequently apologised for their actions and agreed to compensate survivors and the families of the deceased.


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