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Wong v Parkside Health NHS Trust, Court of Appeal

3 December 2001
The issues

Employment – harassment – whether campaign of rudeness amounted to intentional infliction of harm. (N.B. second defendant’s application for dismissal).

The facts

W was employed by the NHS Trust. Other employees including M had subjected W to rudeness and unfriendliness. There had been an incident of assault on M by W and on another occasion M had threatened W with “reprisals”. W left work in March 1995. Later that year she brought a private prosecution against M resulting in M’s conviction for common assault. £75 compensation had been ordered and was paid. In 1998 W brought an action against the Trust and M alleging physical and psychiatric injury as a result of the actions of M and other employee’s which the Trust was reliable.

M applied to strike out on the grounds that there was no tort of harassment at common law for the Protection for Harassment 1997 and that the Acts complained of and could not amount to the intention infliction of harm under the principal in Wilkinson v Downton. The claimant appealed against the order striking out.

The decision
  1. There was no Tort of Harassment before the Enactment of the Protection from Harassment 1997.
  2. The judge had properly excluded the assault on W from his consideration because Section 45 of the 1861 Offences against the Person Act provided that following a conviction no subsequent reliance can be placed upon it. The wrong constituted by the assault was therefore “exhausted”. The threat of reprisals was of no causative effect.
  3. There remained only the campaign of rudeness and unfriendliness, which could not amount to the intentional infliction of harm.

Appeal dismissed.

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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.

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