0370 270 6000

Armstrong v Secretary of State for the Home Department

16 October 2001
The issues

Psychiatric Injury – Reasonable foreseeable risk.

The facts

The Claimant was a Prison Officer there were three Officers involved in the supervision of Rosemary West. She had been required to spend time with West during which she had been actively encouraged to establish a close relationship to prevent West from committing suicide. She alleged she had not been supervised in this task and had become too closely involved, and had come to believe that West was innocent losing her objectivity. She alleged she had developed a post-traumatic stress disorder when West was convicted.

The decision

1. The Claimant had suffered post-traumatic stress disorder and all the symptoms were attributable to her relationship with West.

2. Three questions were to be asked:-

(i) Whether her work created a reasonably foreseeable risk of psychiatric injury.

(ii) Whether the system of work was reasonable.

(iii) If the answer to the first question was ‘yes’ and the second ‘no’, had the failure to adopt a reasonable system caused the injury.

As a fact it was found that she had not been encouraged to form a relationship with West and her request to go to Court was a normal part of her duties. There were no features of her work given rise to a foreseeable risk of psychiatric injury, notwithstanding that the unusual regime was inherently stressful to some extent. Attempts however have been made to deal with this by ensuring that there were always two Officers on duty and that there were substantial breaks between shifts.

Focus on...

Legal updates

Court of Appeal confirms exclusive English jurisdiction clause in excess liability policies in Canadian pipeline dispute

On 10 June 2022 the Court of Appeal upheld an anti-suit injunction granted in favour of insurers by Mr Justice Jacobs in September 2021 restraining proceedings from being brought in Canada and enforcing the exclusive English jurisdiction clause in excess liability policies.



Payment Fraud landscape shaped by technology in 2021

Payment systems across Europe are under increased pressure to mitigate fraud risks and defend against persistent attacks from enablers using ever more sophisticated and malicious viruses and malware.


Legal updates

Gosden and another v Halliwell Landau and another [2021] EWHC 159 (Comm)

This claim addressed the question, of when the date for assessment of damages in cases of negligence should be determined and shows that when appropriate the Courts will depart from the default position.


Legal updates

Assessing the scope of employers liability – Chell v Tarmac

These were the opening remarks of Mr Justice Martin Spencer when handing down his Judgment in the recent case of Andrew Chell v Tarmac Cement and Lime Limited [2020] EWHC 2613, the latest in a series of appeals dealing with the scope of vicarious liability.


The content on this page is provided for the purposes of general interest and information. It contains only brief summaries of aspects of the subject matter and does not provide comprehensive statements of the law. It does not constitute legal advice and does not provide a substitute for it.

Mailing list sign up

Select which mailings you would like to receive from us.

Sign up