• Robert Spicer

Psychiatric Injury at Work

Psychiatric injury

Robbery of betting shop

Case Nicholls v Ladbrokes Betting & Gaming Ltd [2014] PIQR P4, CA

Statute reference Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999; Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992

Facts N was employed by L as a cashier. In November 2007 the betting shop where she worked was robbed by two armed and masked men. N suffered psychiatric damage. She claimed compensation from L, alleging:

  • Negligence in that L had failed to keep the front door of the premises locked by operating the magnetic lock fitted to it.

  • Breach of statutory duty in failing to carry out a proper risk assessment required by the 1999 Regulations.

  • Failure to provide suitable lighting in breach of the 1992 Regulations.

L denied all the claims.

At first instance, the claims succeeded. The judge found that the defence evidence was unsatisfactory and included deliberate falsehoods. No risk assessment document was produced. No policy or guidance had been laid down in relation to the use of the magnetic lock, other than at opening and closing times, and it should have been in use during the hours of darkness. Proper lighting should have been maintained outside the premises.

N was awarded £9000 compensation. L appealed to the Court of Appeal.

Decision 1. The appeal was allowed.

2. The trial judge had not been allowed to find on the evidence that there had been no proper risk assessment dealing with the risk of robbery at L’s premises.

3. The betting shop had been designated as at low risk of robbery because of its location.

4. The use of the magnetic lock was within the discretion of the manager on duty at the time.

5. N had not shown that the installation of a magnetic lock at a betting shop was perceived within the industry as an essential security measure.

6. There had been no previous robbery at the premises and no particular or heightened risk was perceived to attach to them.

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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