AQA A2 Law Psychiatric harm notes

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The courts have been reluctant to admit that a duty of care in the area of nervous shock
exists because of the fear of fraudulent claims and the difficulty of proof among other
Nervous shock can be defined as a serious psychiatric illness producing a recognised
medical condition, anything less will be insufficient (Reilly v Merseyside Regional Health
This covers things such as post-traumatic stress, clinical depression and personality change.
Primary and Secondary Victims
Page v Smith distinguishes between primary and secondary victims
Primary Victim
Directly involved in the incident and who it is reasonable foreseeable would be physically
injured, no need to prove that nervous shock was foreseeable ­ just some injury
Secondary Victim
Not directly involved in the incident but suffers nervous shock as a result
of what he sees or hears. Before McLoughlin v O'Brien it was not
possible for someone who was not at the scene to recover damages for
Lord Oliver said that in relation to secondary victims, 4 factors should be taken into account:
1. The relationship between C and the victim ­ close ties of love and affection
2. The physical proximity of C to the accident or aftermath
3. There must be a sudden shock and it must cause a recognised psychiatric illness grief
is not enough
4. How C saw the events ­ not sufficient to see it on television
1. Close ties of love and affection
These are presumed in the case of parents and children (McLoughlin v
Must be established by evidence in other cases (Alcock v CC of
Rescuers will either:
a) Have been in danger themselves = primary victims (White v CC of S.Yorkshire)
b) Have to prove a close tie to the victim (McFarlane v Caledonia)
2. Immediate Aftermath
Must have been present at the scene or its immediate aftermath (Atkinson v
3. (& 4) How the shock was caused

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