Psychiatric Injury in UK Law

Leading Cases
  • McLoughlin v O'Brian
    • House of Lords
    • 06 May 1982

    The common law gives no damages for the emotional distress which any normal person experiences when someone he loves is killed or injured. Yet an anxiety neurosis or a reactive depression may be recognisable psychiatric illnesses, with or without psychosomatic symptoms. So, the first hurdle which a plaintiff claiming damages of the kind in question must surmount is to establish that he is suffering, not merely grief, distress or any other normal emotion, but a positive psychiatric illness.

  • Page v Smith
    • House of Lords
    • 11 May 1995

    In the case of a primary victim the question will almost always turn on whether the foreseeable injury is physical. There is no justification for regarding physical and psychiatric injury as different "kinds" of injury. Once it is established that the defendant is under a duty of care to avoid causing personal injury to the plaintiff, it matters not whether the injury in fact sustained is physical, psychiatric or both.

  • R v Chan-Fook
    • Court of Appeal (Criminal Division)
    • 22 Oct 1993

    Accordingly the phrase "actual bodily harm" is capable of include psychiatric injury. But it does not include mere emotions such as fear or distress nor panic nor does it include, as such, states of mind that are not themselves evidence of some identifiable clinical condition.

  • White and Others v Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police and Others
    • House of Lords
    • 03 Dic 1998

    It is true that there is no contract between police officers and a chief constable. But it would be artificial to rest a judgment on this point: the relationship between the police officers and the chief constable is closely analogous to a contract of employment. The rules to be applied when an employee brings an action against his employer for harm suffered at his workplace are the rules of tort.

    My Lords, the law on the recovery of compensation for pure psychiatric harm is a patchwork quilt of distinctions which are difficult to justify. In my view the only sensible general strategy for the courts is to say thus far and no further. In reality there are no refined analytical tools which will enable the courts to draw lines by way of compromise solution in a way which is coherent and morally defensible.

  • Alcock and Others v Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police
    • House of Lords
    • 28 Nov 1991

    It is customary to classify cases in which damages are claimed for injury occasioned in this way under a single generic label as cases of "liability for nervous shock." Broadly they divide into two categories, that is to say, those cases in which the injured plaintiff was involved, either mediately or immediately, as a participant, and those in which the plaintiff was no more than the passive and unwilling witness of injury caused to others.

  • Simmons v British Steel Plc; British Steel Plc v Simmons
    • House of Lords
    • 29 Abr 2004

    These authorities suggest that, once liability is established, any question of the remoteness of damage is to be approached along the following lines which may, of course, be open to refinement and development.

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Legislation
  • Finance (No. 2) Act 2017
    • UK Non-devolved
    • 1 de Enero de 2017
    ...... (7) In section 406 (exception in cases of death, injury or disability)— . (a) (a) the existing text becomes subsection (1), and ... “(2) Although “injury” in subsection (1) includes psychiatric injury, it does not include injured feelings.” . (8) In section ......
  • Health and Social Care (Community Health and Standards) Act 2003
    • UK Non-devolved
    • 1 de Enero de 2003
    ......other person (the ‘injured person’) in consequence of any injury,. whether physical or psychological, suffered by the injured person, and. ...of— . . (a) medical or psychiatric treatment, or. . . (b) listed services (as defined in section. 2).’ ......
  • The Important Public Services (Health) Regulations 2017
    • UK Non-devolved
    • 1 de Enero de 2017
    ......(d)(d) psychiatric services provided in a hospital for conditions which require immediate ention in order to prevent serious injury, serious illness or loss of life; and. (e)(e) obstetric and midwifery ......
  • The Civil Procedure (Amendment No.3) Rules 2005
    • UK Non-devolved
    • 1 de Enero de 2005
    ...... “(iv) “(iv) relates to an injury to which Section V of this Part applies; or”. S-40 . After Section IV ... . “Type B claim” means a claim relating to— . a psychiatric injury alleged to have been caused by work-related psychological stress; . ......
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Books & Journal Articles
  • Reforming Liability for Psychiatric Injury in Scotland: A Recipe for Uncertainty?
    • Núm. 68-6, Noviembre 2005
    • The Modern Law Review
    It is widely acknowledged that the common law rules governing liability for psychiatric injury in the United Kingdom are in an unsatisfactory state. The Scottish Law Commission has now published a ...
  • Sticks, Stones and Words: Emotional Harm and the English Criminal Law
    • Núm. 74-6, Diciembre 2010
    • Journal of Criminal Law, The
    This article discusses the rule that criminal liability does not normally attach for the causing of emotional harm or mental distress in the absence of proof of a ‘recognised psychiatric injury’. I...
    ...... or mental distress in the absence of proof of a ‘recognised psychiatric injury’. It considers what is involved in the diagnosis of psychiatric ......
  • Negligently Caused Psychiatric Harm: Recovering Principle and Fairness after the Alcock-Up at Hillsborough
    • Núm. 6-1, Enero 2016
    • Southampton Student Law Review
    • Jonathan Patterson
    • University of Southampton
    • 23-35
    This article argues that the law concerning pure psychiatric harm caused by negligence has been in a state of disrepair since the decision in Alcock. It is contended that the present unsatisfactory...
    ...... victims and the requirement for sudden shock, as well as continuing to use expert medical evidence to help determine causation for psychiatric injury. This article concludes that implementing such changes would lead to a fairer and more balanced situation whereby deserving claimants have a greater ......
  • Domestic Abuse, Suicide and Liability for Manslaughter: In Pursuit of Justice for Victims
    • Núm. 84-4, Agosto 2020
    • Journal of Criminal Law, The
    There is significant debate about the attribution of criminal responsibility for involuntary manslaughter to a defendant who has subjected a victim to a protracted campaign of emotional abuse (fall...
    ...... to a protracted campaign of emotional abuse (falling short of psychiatric injury), where the victim has consequently taken their own life. By virtue ......
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Law Firm Commentaries
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