Paul (A Child) v Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust [2020] EWHC 1415 (QB)

Tort Law feature, Paul (A Child) v Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust [2020] EWHC 1415 (QB), negligence

Paul (A Child) v Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust [2020] EWHC 1415 (QB) is a Tort Law case concerning Negligence.

Facts:

In Paul (A Child) v Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust [2020] EWHC 1415 (QB), the appellants were children of the victim who died. Furthermore, the victim died as a result of alleged negligent medical treatment. He was admitted to hospital with chest and jaw pain. He was discharged in few days. 14.5 months later he died from a heart attack. Moreover, his children saw him dying and sought to claim damages for psychiatric harm. They claimed that the heart attack was caused by the defendant negligent diagnosis during his earlier hospital stay.

Issue:

 

Following the Taylor v Somerset HA [1993], was there a completed tort when the father was discharged from the hospital? His heart attack was the later consequence of the hospital’s negligent infliction of damage and was not an “event” under Alcock criteria.

Held:

Appeal allowed.

Reasoning:

“Event” – 3 possible reasons why the father’s heart attack happened 14.5 months after the allegedly negligent treatment, might not be capable of constituting the relevant “event”.

  • The ”event” had to be synchronous, or approximately synchronous, with the negligence that resulted in it. However, HoL judgments never said that this had to invariably be so.
  • Liability depended on there being a negligent act, rather than an omission. However, there was no reason why there should be a difference between a negligent act and an omission.
  • Claimants were absent from the “scene of the tort” (children were not there when the father first visited the hospital).

The court argued that since children could not bring a claim until the father died, “the scene of tort” was the pavement where he died and the claimants were present there. It must have been horrifying to see this scene for his family members who witnessed it. Therefore, the cause of action was complete.

 

Followed: Taylor v Somerset HA [1993]

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

Key Words:

Tort Law, Negligence, Children, Victim, Death, Father, Pavement, Medicine, Hospital, Psychiatric Harm, Damages. 

Read our notes and our cases on Negligence for more information. 

Steel and Morris v UK [2005] EMLR 15 ECHR

Defamation defamatory

Steel and Morris v UK [2005] EMLR 15 ECHR is a Tort Law case focusing on defamation. 

Facts:

McDonald’s sued the applicants in this case for a six-page long leaflet which stated: “What’s wrong with McDonald’s”. As a result, the trial judge found in favour of McDonald’s. However, the applicants brought a case forward to the ECtHR.

The trial was the longest in English legal history.

Issues:

In Steel and Morris v UK [2005] EMLR 15 ECHR the main issues were:

  1. whether the unavailability of legal aid for defamation meant that the applicants had been denied their rights to a fair trial under Article 6 ECHR.
  2. whether there was a violation of their Article 10 ECHR (Freedom of expression) right in the national proceedings in the UK. 
Held:

In conclusion, the Strasbourg Court found a violation of both Article 6 and Article 10 ECHR. The denial of legal aid clearly deprived the claimants of the opportunity to have a fair trial.Thus, it violated their Article 6 ECHR right. Moreover, even though it was not the violation of Article 10 ECHR to allow big companies to sue for defamation, after balancing the procedural unfairness in this case (inequality of arms and the means of the applicants), the court’s decision in favour of McDonald’s was a disproportionate infringement of Article 10 ECHR. 

Legal Principle:

Where state-funded legal representation is unavailable to a private individual in legal proceedings, there may sometimes be a breach of the European Convention guaranteeing the right to a fair trial and freedom of expression.  

References: Times 16-Feb-2005, 68416/01, [2005] ECHR 103, (2005) 41 EHRR 403, [2011] ECHR 2272

Read our notes and other cases on Defamation for more information. 

Allen v Gulf Oil Refining Ltd [1981] AC 1001

Allen v Gulf Oil Refining Ltd

Allen v Gulf Oil Refining Ltd [1981] AC 1001 is a Tort Law case concerning nuisance. 

Facts:

An Act of Parliament allowed D to build an oil refinery. However, the oil refinery caused noise, bad smells and vibrations to Allen’s property.

Issue: 

Whether the oil refinery caused a nuisance.

Was Allen successful?

Held:

No. Since the activity was sanctioned by an Act of Parliament, it could not constitute a nuisance.

Moreover, in Allen v Gulf Oil Refining Ltd, Lord Wilberforce stated ‘The respondent alleges a nuisance, by smell, noise, vibration, etc. the facts regarding these matters are for her to prove. It is then for the appellants to show if they can, that it was impossible to construct and operate a refinery upon the site, conforming with Parliament’s intention, without creating the nuisance alleged, or at least a nuisance.’

References: [1981] AC 1001, [1980] UKHL 9, [1981] 1 All ER 353, [1981] 2 WLR 188

Read our notes and other cases on Nuisance for more information. 

Godfrey v Demon Internet Ltd [2001] QB 201

Defamation defamatory internet online social media

Godfrey v Demon Internet Ltd [2001] QB 201 is a Tort Law case concerning defamation. 

Facts:

Demon Internet Ltd was an Internet Service Provider (ISP), providing subscribers with access to bulletin boards. C put Demon Internet Ltd on notice of a defamatory statement posted on the board. Furthermore, C requested its removal. However, Demon Internet Ltd did not remove the post.

Held:

Morland J held that the ISP had ‘published’ the statement: ‘Every time one of Demon Internet’s customers accesses the bulletin and sees the defamatory post about the plaintiff, there is a new publication.’

In conclusion, in Godfrey v Demon Internet Ltd [2001] QB 201 it was found that Demon Internet Ltd could not benefit from the protection of s1 of the DA 1996.

However, an operator in the position of Demon Internet Ltd could now benefit from the protection of s10 or s5 of the DA 2013, if it was practical to bring an action against other appropriate parties (s10) or if those parties were identifiable (s5).

References: 1998-G-No 30, [1999] EWHC QB 240, [1999] 4 All ER 342, [1999] Masons CLR 267, [1999] ITCLR 282, [2001] QB 201, [1999] EMLR 542, [2000] 3 WLR 1020

Read our notes and other cases on Defamation for more information. 

Economou v de Freitas [2016] EWHC 1853

Defamation defamatory

Economou v de Freitas [2016] EWHC 1853 is a Tort Law case concerning defamation. 

Facts:

In Economou v de Freitas, C complained that D had falsely accused him of raping his deceased daughter. She had killed herself due to severe depression. As a result, the defence of public interest as per Section 4 DA 2013 was raised.

Issue: 

Firstly, was C referred to by the publications complained of? Moreover, did the statements cause serious harm to C’s reputation?

Was C successful?

Held:

No. In conclusion, the Court held that the defence was made out. Moreover, they identified the following reasons for such a decision:

  1. D reasonably regarded the issues raised as matters of considerable public importance
  2. He was in a unique position to raise the issues, with reference to the tragic circumstances of an individual case, which was likely to catch public attention
  3. D had some inherently reliable information, having observed some of the history first-hand
  4. He had made reasonable and responsible investigations into the merits of the case against his daughter. Furthermore, he was not bound to accept that the CPS had made a correct decision.
  5. Moreover, D had sufficient material on which to challenge that view
  6. What he said was “about” the CPS and his daughter. It was targeted at the public authority concerned, not C
  7. He deliberately avoided naming or referring to C
  8. He had, in all the circumstances prevailing at the time of the November publications, no reason to suppose that C would be widely identified by readers, listeners, or viewers, as the man involved
  9. There was a degree of urgency about raising these matters, given the stage that had been reached with the inquest proceedings
  10. It was reasonable for him to leave it to the media organisations concerned to conduct such further investigations and to solicit such comment (if any) as the public interest required
  11. Similarly, as regards C’s “side of the story”, though since the story was about the CPS that was very much a secondary issue
  12. The tone of what he wrote and said was responsible and measured
  13. It was hard to see how D could have expressed his sincere doubts about the conduct of the CPS without the risk of implicit defamation of C. 
References:

HQ15D01507, [2016] EWHC 1853 (QB), [2017] EMLR 4

Read our notes and other cases on Defamation for more information.