Intentional infliction of harm in tort law – OUP Blog

Posted December 14th, 2015 in compensation, damages, news, personal injuries, psychiatric damage by sally

‘The tort of intentional infliction of harm would seem to encapsulate a basic moral principle – that if you injure someone intentionally and without just cause or excuse, then you should be liable for the commission of a tort – in addition to any crime that you commit. Occasionally, judges have held that there is such a principle, which is of general application: eg, Bowen LJ in Mogul Steamship v McGregor Gow & Co (1889). While this principle is now uncontroversial in cases of the intended infliction of physical harm (see Bird v Holbrook [1828]), the position has been unclear in so far as it concerns the causation of psychiatric harm. The most important case on intended infliction of psychiatric harm (IIPH) was Wilkinson v Downton (1897). But that case has long been doubted because the defendant had been playing a practical joke upon the claimant, telling her that her husband had been involved in an accident and was lying ‘smashed up’ at Leytonstone. Wright J could find no actual intention to harm, but held that an imputed intention to harm was sufficient to create liability.’

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OUP Blog, 14th December 2015