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EVALUATING PSYCHIATRIC HARM

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  • Essay length: 1250 words
  • Submitted: 26/11/2009
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AS and A Level Law of Tort

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Evaluating Pshciatric harm

Psychiatric harm is a recognised psychiatric illness, resulting from an incident and it must have long term effects. Mere grief, fright and sorrow are insuffiecient. Historically the law did not extend to claims brought purely in respect of psychiatric harm. This was due to it being difficult to diagnose, and may lead to victims faking the illness and bring ficticious claims. There was also the fear of opening the floodgates - if too many people could fake the illness, then there would be no end of claims in the tort.

In white v cc of south Yorkshire, Lord Steyn commented that the law on psychiatric harm is a patchwork quilt of distinctions which are hard to justify. The mechanisms developed by the judiciary to prevent the number of potential claims in psychiatric harm result in injustice.

The first problem that lies with it is the inconsistent development. The law on psychiatric harm has developed drastically over the past 100 years, with the knowledge of illnesses like it uncommon at the turn of the 20th century, and at the end of the 20th century they are commonly known to exist.

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