Taylor v A Novo (UK) Ltd [2013] EWCA Civ 194

Key point

  • In assessing negligence liability towards secondary victims of psychiatric shock from witnessing the death of a loved one, where there is a period of delay between the accident causing the death and the time of death, there must be sufficient proximity of the psychiatric shock to the accident causing the death and not the death itself

Facts

  • C’s mother had suffered a workplace accident that resulted in her sustaining injury and suffered a fatal thrombosis three weeks later
  • C witnessed her mother’s death and sued D employer for her resulting PTSD
  • The judge had ruled that there was sufficient proximity as the event that caused C’s PTSD was her mother’s death and there was no gap between that event and C’s psychiatric injury

Held (Court of Appeal)

  • Appeal allowed; C’s claim was rejected
  • The relevant event for assessing proximity was the accident and not the death of the mother

Lord Moore-Bick MR

  • If the death was the relevant event, D would owe a duty of care even if C’s mother died years later
  • There are strong policy reasons for restricting liability towards secondary victims, liability should not be extended except by parliament