• Robert Spicer

New Case On Psychiatric Injury

Psychiatric injury

Causation

Application of Johnson v Unisys

Case Monk v Cann Hall Primary School and Essex County Council [2014] PIQR P3, CA Facts M was employed as an administrative assistant at CH school. In 2008 ECC told her that she would be made redundant on August 31, 2008. In July 2008 the school governors decided that she would be denied access to the school before the end of term. She was required to clear her desk and hand in her keys and was escorted from the premises in front of teachers, parents and pupils. She was not told why this was done. M brought proceedings for unfair dismissal and defamation. Both these claims were settled. In July 2011 M brought an action for personal injury on the basis that she had suffered psychiatric injury as a result of the way in which she had been treated at the school. Essex CC admitted liability and admitted that it had failed to exercise reasonable care in the manner in which it brought the claimant’s employment to an end. Essex CC then became aware of the decision in Johnson v Unisys, which limited the right of an employee to recover loss caused by the manner of his dismissal. It then applied to withdraw its admission and for the claim to be struck out as disclosing no reasonable cause of action. These applications were granted. M appealed to the Court of Appeal, arguing that her employment did not end until August 31 and was not therefore affected by Johnson v Unisys.

Decision 1. The appeal was allowed. 2. If M’s exclusion from the school from the school on July amounted to a dismissal, then the manner in which it was carried out was probably too closely related to the dismissal itself to escape the effect of Johnson v Unisys. If the exclusion was nothing more than an incident occurring during the period of her employment, it was difficult to see how it was sufficiently related to the dismissal to fall within the exclusion area. 3. It was not an abuse of process for M to argue that her employment ended on August 32, 2008. 4. The claim should not be struck out.

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