0370 270 6000

already registered?

Please sign in with your existing account details.

need to register?

Register to access exclusive content, sign up to receive our updates and personalise your experience on brownejacobson.com.

Privacy statement - Terms and conditions

Harding v The Pub Estate Co Ltd, Court of Appeal, 11 May 2005

20 May 2005
The issues

Occupational stress – foreseeability – heart attack

The facts

The Claimant was the manager of the Antelope Public House in Little Hulton on the outskirts of Manchester. It was described as being a rough area. The Claimant was appointed as a temporary manager of proven ability to bring the pub up to scratch so that it could be sold. He worked long hours. In September 1998 he suffered a heart attack. He was admitted to hospital. Three days later his employment was terminated. He alleged that the Defendant was negligent expecting him to work long hours under stress in managing licence premises that were rife with criminal activity and that they had ignored his requests for help. The medical evidence was that the Respondent had had underlying coronary artery atherosclerosis that predated his employment with the Defendant and that chronic severe stress exacerbated or accelerated the process of chronic atherosclerosis formation; that acute stress could act as a trigger for plaque rupture and hence the heart attack. The expert psychiatric evidence was that the Claimant had not developed a psychiatric disorder. The Judge accepted the Claimant’s description of events and the level of stress cause and concluded that the respondent’s working conditions had been stressful and established the premise on which the experts based their opinion. There was dispute between the parties as to what the Claimant had told his employer. The Claimant alleged that he had told his employer that he had seen his doctor and his working conditions were having an effect on his health. But although the Claimant was not shy to complain when there was something to complain about they had no recollection of any such complaints on this occasion. The Judge found that the Defendant should have paid heed when they were alerted to what the Claimant’s doctor was telling him and that something should have done about it. The Judge found for the Claimant. The Defendant appealed the decision.

The decision

It was necessary to look with care at the history of events. Had the Claimant made sufficiently clear and cogent complaints with regards to risk to his health. The Judge had failed to conduct an analysis of the evidence with a view to finding what the Respondent had said to the Defendant and when the Defendant should have been alerted to the risk of a breakdown in his health, whether of psychiatric injury or of the sort of injury that had in fact occurred.

Had the Judge carried out such an analysis he would have found that nothing was said that should have flagged up to the Defendant such a risk. There was no clear sign to the Claimant’s doctor that such a warning should be passed on to his employer.

On that basis no breach of duty was established and it was not necessary to consider the question of causation.

In Hatton v Sutherland, Hale LJ had stated that “to trigger a duty to take steps, the indications of impending harm to health arising from stress at work had to be plain enough for any reasonable employer to realise that he should do something about it”. The Claimant’s evidence failed to get within striking distance of activating the trigger.

Appeal allowed.

training and events


Insurer Insight event London office

Developed for insurers, this exclusive series of events will provide you with operational and practical insights from across the legal spectrum.

View event

focus on...

Legal updates

Insurance Product Value and the duty to act in the best interests of customers: risks from intermediary remuneration

On 19 November 2019, the Financial Conduct Authority (“FCA”) published “Finalised guidance” (FG19/5) for “insurance product manufacturers and distributors”.


Legal updates

Financial Services – ‘Duty of Care’ Bill: consumer protection or damp squib?

The Financial Services Duty of Care Bill (the “Bill”) was introduced into the House of Lords in October 2019 and had its second reading on 9 January 2020.


Legal updates

Noise-induced hearing loss claims – documentation and the expert engineer

Guest writer, Finch Consulting Senior Consultant Teli Chinelis applies his expertise in preparing engineering reports in relation to noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) claims to explain information that is required from the claimant and information that is required and is advisable to be retained by employers, in order to ensure that claims can be fairly represented.


Legal updates

SRA Standards and Regulations November 2019

On Monday 25 November the 2011 SRA Handbook is replaced by the 2019 SRA Standards and Regulations (often referred to as STARS).This is the 26th version of the Code of Conduct for Solicitors.


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