Psychiatric harm – how high is the bar?

In June, in Ronayne v Liverpool Women’s Hospital, the Court of Appeal in England & Wales reiterated the ‘control’ tests applying to claims in which secondary victims (who were not physically hurt by the accidental tort) suffer psychiatric harm as a result of personal injuries caused to someone else close to them. The relevant control tests remain, largely, those laid down in the litigation that followed the Hillsborough stadium disaster in 1989. In Scotland, the recent case of Young v MacVean (29 September 2015) shows the Inner House of the Court of Session adopting a very similar approach. The overall messages from both jurisdictions are:

  1. that such claims remain subject to high legal thresholds, and
  2. a judicial recognition that these controls may not always appear logical.

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