Psychiatric injury law in England and Australia - drawing closer together?

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Major differences developed between English and Australian psychiatric injury law from about 1990 onwards, particularly in "secondary victim" cases. The House of Lords endorsed the traditional restrictions of aftermath, direct perception and sudden shock, whereas the High Court of Australia adopted a more enlightened approach which relied chiefly on foreseeability of psychiatric injury. In the last five years, there are indications that the gap has narrowed a little. The English courts, first in medical negligence cases but then more generally, have shown that they are now prepared to interpret the aftermath requirement more creatively. In Australia, by contrast, the codification of the law on "mental harm" has narrowed the law in certain respects, and there is scope for further restriction in the process of statutory interpretation. This analysis assesses the significance of these developments and attempts to sum up the present position.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)176-197
JournalJournal of Law and Medicine
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2007

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