Five police officers brought claims for psychiatric injuries they had suffered as a result of a fatal shooting. They had all witnessed the shooting.

They alleged their employer had negligently created the circumstances of the shooting and that had caused them injury.

The Court of Appeal held that the officers had no real prospect of proving that it was reasonably foreseeable that their employer’s failings might result in their psychiatric injury.

Even if they had witnessed the shooting, they would have had no claim as secondary victims as they had no family or emotional tie to the victims and it followed that the officers in question were even more remotely affected than that and they could have no claim either (White -v- Chief Constable of South Yorkshire (1998) 3 WLR 1509) .
Nor could they have a claim for criminal and disciplinary proceedings that followed, which caused them psychiatric injury as they could not show, following Barber, that they were particularly vulnerable to work-related stress in these circumstances.

French -v- Chief Constable of Sussex [2006] Civ 312

Practice and Procedure

Time limit for sexual assault

The Court of Appeal has held that civil claims for damages arising out of sexual assault are subject to a non-extendable six-year limitation period from the date of the assault or from the claimant’s majority if later. The Human Rights Act could not be used retrospectively to deprive the defendants of accrued rights to plead the fixed six-year limitation period. The court was also bound to hold that a claimant could not take advantage of the more relaxed limitation regime available for actions for breach of duty by claiming that his local authority was vicariously responsible for a teacher’s breach of duty and failing to report his own misconduct.

A -v- Hoare and Others. Court of Appeal, 28 April 2006.