Court overturns US claim to military jurisdiction in death by careless driving case

Airman first class Mikayla Hayes will face prosecution for causing the death of a motorcyclist by careless driving, following a ruling by the Deputy Chief Magistrate of England and Wales that the criminal courts have jurisdiction over the case.

The collision occurred whilst the defendant was driving home from the RAF Lakenheath base, but the US Air Force issued a certificate under the Visiting Forces Act 1954, asserting that it had primacy over the case because the defendant was acting in the course of her duty. The Court held that the prosecution, represented by Rachel Scott, had succeeded in rebutting the US authorities’ claim to jurisdiction, and that the statutory provisions excluding the English courts’ jurisdiction in favour of friendly foreign forces should be narrowly construed.

It is believed to be the first time an English court has ruled on the duty status of members of foreign forces when driving to and from their place of work.

The case is reported by Sky News here.

23rd November 2022