alcock v chief constable of south yorkshire police judgment

The failure of the law in general to compensate for injuries sustained by persons unconnected with the event precipitated by a defendant's negligence must necessarily import the lack of any legal duty owed by the defendant to such persons. [1998] SLJS 121. My Lords, if sympathy alone were to be the determining factor in these claims, then they would never have been contested. In general, for instance, it might be supposed that the likelihood of trauma of such a degree as to cause psychiatric illness would be less in the case of a friend or a brother-in-law than in that of a parent or fianc e. But in every case the underlying and essential postulate is a relationship of proximity between plaintiff and defendant and it is this, as it seems to me, which must be the determining factor in the instant appeals. Please log in or sign up for a free trial to access this feature. In Dulieu v. White & Sons [1901] 2 KB 669, a plaintiff who suffered nervous shock as a result of fears for her own safety caused by the defendant's negligence was held to have a cause of action. They sought damages, some of them for personal injuries by way of nervous shock and some in the light of psychiatric injury having seen the match on television, and knowing that their relatives were in the crowd which was caused by the negligence of the police department who was responsible for the crowd control. Suppose, for instance, that the primary victim has lived with the plaintiff for 40 years, both being under the belief that they are lawfully married. The principal argument in the appeal has centred round the question whether, as the plaintiffs contend, the decision of this House in McLoughlin v. O'Brian [1983] 1 AC 410, establishes as the criterion of a duty owed by the defendants to the plaintiff a simple test of the foreseeability of injury of the type in fact sustained or whether, as the defendant maintains, that case imports also a necessary requirement, either as a matter of public policy or as a measure of proximity, of the existence of some close blood or marital relationship between the appellants and the victims of the negligent conduct. Nor can it rationally be made to rest upon such injury being without the area of reasonable foreseeability. The nervous shock resulted from the plaintiff's fear that the falling load would injure or kill some of his fellow workmen. I do not consider that it would be profitable to try and define who such others might be or to draw any dividing line between one degree of relationship and another. A v Chief Constable of South Yorkshire High Court The diversity of view arose at the next stage, that is to say that of ascertaining whether the relationship between the plaintiff and the primary victim was such as to support the existence of such a duty. What is more difficult to account for is why, when the law in general declines to extend the area of compensation to those whose injury arises only from the circumstances of their relationship to the primary victim, an exception has arisen in those cases in which the event of injury to the primary victim has been actually witnessed by the plaintiff and the injury claimed is established as stemming from that fact. Get 1 point on adding a valid citation to this judgment. These cases included claims made by brothers, sisters, parents, a grand-parent and a fiancé. It is, for instance, readily conceivable that a parent may suffer injury, whether physical or psychiatric, as a result of witnessing a negligent act which places his or her child in extreme jeopardy but from which, in the event, the child escapes unharmed. Lord Bridge propounded simply a criterion of the reasonable foreseeability by the defendant of the damage to the plaintiff which had occurred without necessarily invoking physical presence at or propinquity to the accident or its aftermath or any particular relationship to the primary victim as limiting factors, although, of course, clearly these elements would be important in the determination of what, on the facts of any given case, would be reasonably foreseeable. The case centred upon the liability of the police for the nervous shock suffered in consequence of the events of the Hillsborough disaster. As Lord Reid said in McKew v. Holland & Hannen & Cubitts (Scotland) Ltd.[1969] 3 All ER 1621, 1623: Deane J. pertinently observed in Jaensch v. Coffey, (1984) 155 C.L.R. Take, for instance, the case of a mother who suffers shock and psychiatric injury through witnessing the death of her son when he negligently walks in front of an oncoming motor car. 3d 1316, 1326, that the existence of the duty must depend on reasonable foreseeability and. The case of a bystander unconnected with the victims of an accident is difficult. To draw such a line would necessarily be arbitrary and lacking in logic. Counsel for the plaintiffs and for the defendant respectively have invited your Lordships to accept or reject one or other of these two approaches on the footing that they represent mutually exclusive alternatives and to say on the one hand that the only criterion for the establishment of liability is the reasonable foreseeability of damage in accordance with the views expressed by Lord Bridge (which, it is urged, existed in the case of each of the plaintiffs) or, on the other hand, that liability must, as a matter of public policy, be decreed to stop at the case of a spouse or parent and in any event must be restricted to injury to a person who was physically present at the event or at its aftermath and witnessed one or the other. They may be present in family relationships or those of close friendship, and may be stronger in the case of engaged couples than in that of persons who have been married to each other for many years. Lord Atkin in Donoghue v. Stevenson [1932] AC 562, 580 described those to whom a duty of care is owed as being: The concept of a person being closely and directly affected has been conveniently labelled "proximity," and this concept has been applied in certain categories of cases, particularly those concerned with pure economic loss, to limit and control the consequences as regards liability which would follow if reasonable foreseeability were the sole criterion. Creating a unique profile web page containing interviews, posts, articles, as well as the cases you have appeared in, greatly enhances your digital presence on search engines such Google and Bing, resulting in increased client interest. I, too, would therefore dismiss these appeals. Cup. The quality of brotherly love is well known to differ widely - from Cain and Abel to David and Jonathan. The necessary element of proximity between plaintiff and defendant is furnished, at least in part, by both physical and temporal propinquity and also by the sudden and direct visual impression on the plaintiff's mind of actually witnessing the event or its immediate aftermath. View Alcock and others v Chief Constable of the South Yorkshire Police.docx from BUSINESS 285 at Northeastern University. I do not consider that this case is of assistance where, as here, the plaintiffs were not personally involved in the disaster. The common features of all the reported cases of this type decided in this country prior to the decision of Hidden J. in the instant case and in which the plaintiff succeeded in establishing liability are, first, that in each case there was a marital or parental relationship between the plaintiff and the primary victim; secondly, that the injury for which damages were claimed arose from the sudden and unexpected shock to the plaintiff's nervous system; thirdly, that the plaintiff in each case was either personally present at the scene of the accident or was in the more or less immediate vicinity and witnessed the aftermath shortly afterwards; and, fourthly, that the injury suffered arose from witnessing the death of, extreme danger to, or injury and discomfort suffered by the primary victim. Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police (1991) 3 WLR 1057 Cases referrred Bourhill v. Young [1943 A.C. 92] para 5 McLoughlin v. O'Brian [(1983) 1 A.C. 410]. 73 must be seriously doubted. The trauma is created in part by such confirmation and in part by the linking in the mind of the plaintiff of that confirmation to the previously absorbed image. Alcock v Chief Constable of South Yorkshire House of Lords. However, the decades since the judgment have witnessed an explosion of new media platforms and technologies which have arguably transformed the dissemination of imagery. Obviously a claim for damages for psychiatric injury by a remote relative of the primary victim will factually require most cautious scrutiny and faces considerable evidentiary difficulties. If one goes back to what may be regarded as the genesis of the modern law of tortious negligence - that is to say, the judgment of Sir Baliol Brett M.R. In each case damages are sought for psychiatric illness, which, for present purposes, must be assumed to have been caused by the nervous impact on the plaintiff of the death or injury of a primary victim with whom he or she had a strong bond of affection. Abstract. para5 Hambrook v. Stokes Brothers [1925] 1 K.B. 549, 552, 578. In Hambrook v. Stokes Brothers [1925] 1 K.B. RESPONDENT: Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police. It may be asked whether, as a matter of the policy of the law, a relationship outside the categories of those in which liability has been established by past decisions can be considered sufficiently proximate to give rise to the duty, quite regardless of the question of foreseeability. 386G-387A. Nevertheless, except in those cases which were based upon some ancient and now outmoded concepts of the quasi-proprietorial rights of husbands over their wives, parents over their children or employers over their menial servants, the common law has, in general, declined to entertain claims for such consequential injuries from third parties save possibly where loss has arisen from the necessary performance of a legal duty imposed on such party by the injury to the victim. This chapter considers the landmark decision in Alcock v Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police [1992] 1 AC 310 concerning liability for psychiatric injury, or ‘nervous shock’. All were agreed that actually witnessing or being present at or near the scene of an accident was not essential to ground liability in an appropriate case, but that the duty might equally be owed to one who comes upon the immediate aftermath of the event. In this case, the respondent’s employees policing at the Hillsborough disaster, had charge of safety at the match, and admitted that the incident took place because of their negligence resulting in dead and injuries to the spectators. In this case, the claimants argued that the police had acted negligently and in contravention of their duty of care owed. It cannot, I think, be accounted for by saying that such consequences cannot reasonably be foreseen. The overcrowding was due to police negligence. Alcock v Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police: lt;p|>|Template:Infobox Court Case| ||||Alcock v Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police|| [199... World Heritage Encyclopedia, the aggregation of the largest online encyclopedias available, and the most definitive collection ever assembled. This case arose from the disaster … She claimed to have suffered psychiatric illness as a result of her experience, and at the trial of her action of damages against those responsible for the accident this was assumed to be the fact. The physical proximity of the pursuer to the point of collision was outside the area in which the deceased could reasonably have contemplated any injury to her and that answered both the question of whether there was reasonable foresight and whether there was any relationship with the deceased inferring a duty of care. None of the other plaintiffs who lost relatives sought to establish that they had relationships of love and affection with a victim comparable to that of a spouse or parent. Into the same category, as it seems to me, fall the so called "rescue cases." 421-423: Lord Bridge of Harwich, with whom Lord Scarman agreed, at p. 431D-E, appears to have rested his finding of liability simply on the test of reasonable foreseeability of psychiatric illness affecting the plaintiff as a result of the consequences of the road accident, at pp. Whilst not dissenting from the case-by-case approach advocated by Lord Bridge in McLoughlin's case, the ultimate boundaries within which claims for damages in such cases can be entertained must I think depend in the end upon considerations of policy. para5 Hambrook v. Die Jovis 28 Novembris 1991 they were not "directly affected" as opposed to the primary victims who were either injured or were in danger of immediate injury. The present position in relation to recognisable claims is that parents and spouses have been held entitled to recover for shock caused by fear for the safety of their children or the other spouse. The Court of Appeal found there to be no duty of care owed and no breach. Only two plaintiffs, Mr. and Mrs. Copoc, lost a son, but they saw the disaster on television and Mr. Copoc identified the body on the following morning having already been informed that his son was dead. NAME OF THE COURT: House of Lords. In both McLoughlin v. O'Brian [1983] 1 A.C. 410 and in Alcock v. Chief Constable of South Yorkshire [1992] 1 A.C. 310, members of the House referred to Chadwick with approval. THE CHIEF CONSTABLE OF SOUTH WALES POLICE -and- SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT -and- ... Judgment Approved by the court for handing down R (Bridges) v CCSWP and SSHD Lord Justice Haddon-Cave and Mr. Justice Swift: A. If the claimant has so established and all other requirements of the claim are satisfied he or she will succeed since the shock to him or her will be within the reasonable contemplation of the tortfeasor. DATE OF JUDGEMENT: 28 December 1991. In deciding it the court has reference to no defined criteria and the decision necessarily reflects to some extent the court's concept of what policy - or perhaps common sense - requires. The fundamental difference in approach is that on behalf of the plaintiffs it is contended that the consideration of these three elements is merely part of the process of deciding whether, as a matter of fact, the reasonable foreseeability test has been satisfied. Thus all but two of the plaintiffs were claiming in respect of shock resulting from the deaths of persons outside the categories of relations so far recognised by the law for the purposes of this type of action. Until 1983 however there had in England been no case in which a plaintiff had been able to recover damages for nervous shock when the event giving rise to the shock had occurred out of sight and out of earshot. Judgment: 5.3.92. This case is one of the most famous and important cases based on negligence, nervous shock and reasonable care to others. My Lords, for some 90 years it has been recognised that nervous shock sustained independently of physical injury and resulting in psychiatric illness can give rise to a claim for damages in an action founded on negligence. Into the same category, I believe, fall those cases such as Dooley v. Cammell Laird & Co. Ltd. [1951] 1 Lloyd's Rep. 271, Galt v. British Railways Board (1983) 133 N.L.J. It has yet to include psychiatric illness caused by the accumulation over a period of time of more gradual assaults on the nervous system.”. 338, a husband, whose wife had been severely injured in a road accident as a result of the defendant's negligence, failed to recover damages for a reduction in his earnings due to his having, because of his anxiety for his wife, declined to resume more remunerative employment abroad; although in that case Diplock J. was prepared to allow his claim for the expenses incurred in providing medical care for his wife on the ground that the plaintiff was under a legal duty to provide it. 16 separate claims were filed against the defendant for nervous shock resulting in psychiatric injury. The Court of Appeal found there to be no duty of care owed and no breach. Others present in the stadium had heard about the events in other ways. 870, and Wigg v. British Railways Board, The Times, 4 February 1986, where the negligent act of the defendant has put the plaintiff in the position of being, or of thinking that he is about to be or has been, the involuntary cause of another's death or injury and the illness complained of stems from the shock to the plaintiff of the consciousness of this supposed fact. LORD TEMPLEMAN. If a claimant watching a simultaneous television broadcast does not satisfy the requirements of proximity it follows that a claimant who listens to the wireless or sees a subsequent television recording falls even further short of the requirement. Sixteen separate actions were brought against him by persons none of whom was present in the area where the disaster occurred, although four of them were elsewhere in the ground. If, for instance, the primary victim is himself 75 per cent. Lord Jauncey of Tullichettle . Get 1 point on providing a valid sentiment to this He has further accepted that each of the plaintiffs has suffered some psychiatric illness. He was medically retired from the South Yorkshire Police in May 2008, and he complained that he had been the victim of unlawful discrimination. The Chief Constable of South Yorkshire has admitted liability in negligence in respect of the deaths and physical injuries. What constitutes the immediate aftermath of an accident must necessarily depend upon the surrounding circumstances. For him to have been reasonably in contemplation by a defendant he must be: The requirement contained in the words "so closely and directly affected ... that" constitutes a control upon the test of reasonable foreseeability of injury. Lord Wilberforce, at p. 422, appears to have favoured the last of these three approaches, but found it, in the event, unnecessary to determine the boundary since the case then before the House concerned a claim within a category which had already been clearly established. 3. Once you create your profile, you will be able to: Claim the judgments where you have appeared by linking them directly to your profile and maintain a record of your body of work. The Judicial Committee of the House of Lords, consisting of Lord Keith of Kinkel, Lord Ackner, Lord Oliver of Aylmerton, Lord Jauncey of Tullichettle, and Lord Lowry has established a number of "control mechanisms" or conditions that had to be fulfilled in order for a duty of care to be found in such cases. I start with the proposition that the existence of a duty of care on the part of the defendant does not depend on foreseeability alone. Alcock v Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police [1992] 1 AC 310. 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