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Damages: Pre-dismissal psychiatric injury claims can proceed

This report relates to 1 case(s)

Key points

In Eastwood and another v Magnox Electric plc; McCabe v Cornwall County Council and others, the House of Lords holds:

  • In cases where psychiatric injury is alleged to have been caused by acts of the employer committed prior to, and separately from the act of dismissal itself, a cause of action will exist at common law for damages in respect of breaches of the implied terms of mutual trust and confidence or to take reasonable care for employees' safety, and/or negligence.
  • Whether or not the acts complained of can be said to be distinguishable from the act of dismissal, will be a question that is to be decided on the facts of each case. In Eastwood, the House of Lords overturned the Court of Appeal in finding that a cause of action was disclosed in circumstances where disciplinary proceedings had been conducted in a malicious and injurious manner over a period of several months, culminating in dismissal. That disciplinary process was not part and parcel of the dismissal.
  • In McCabe, the conduct of a three-year period of suspension and investigation into complaints of inappropriate behaviour by a school teacher towards female pupils, again, alleged to have resulted in psychiatric injury and culminating in dismissal, was also said to disclose a cause of action on the same basis.