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Even after judicial attempts to clarify the principles governing liability for psychiatric harmloose ends remain. (Street on Torts) Discuss.

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  • Essay length: 2527 words
  • Submitted: 09/04/2010
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University Degree Tort Law

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'Even after judicial attempts to clarify the principles governing liability for psychiatric harm...loose ends remain.' (Street on Torts) Discuss.

The principle governing the liability for psychiatric harm has attracted many criticisms. It's 'somewhat arbitrary distinction(s)'1, and mismatch between medical knowledge and legal principles2 have justified judicial, legislative and academic calls for reform. Despite these attempts, many loose ends remain. This essay will begin by briefly explaining the rules and principles that govern liability for psychiatric harm as established in Alcock v Chief Constable of South Yorkshire3. Through examining the development of case law, it will be shown that there has been a general judicial hesitance in limiting their judicial discretion and providing definitive answers in order to ensure fairness and limit floodgates. By stressing criticisms offered in the Law Commission Report, by academics and imaginary 'hard' cases, it will be argued that although the judiciary had not succeeded in clarifying the principles governing liability for psychiatric harm in a coherent and morally defensible manner, it has succeed in clarifying their stance on psychiatric claims through their insistence of wide principles in order to maintain control over the wide-ranging circumstances in which psychiatric claims arise.

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