Negligence in Occupational Stress Cases Comparison Essay by nikki77

An assessment of the test for liability under the tort of negligence in occupational stress cases in both England and Ireland.
# 149073 | 4,500 words | 18 sources | MLA | 2010 | IE
Published on Nov 23, 2011 in Law (Tort)

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The paper focuses on "Sutherland v Hatton", "Maher v. Jabil Global Services" and "Berber v. Dunnes Stores Limited" to examine how English and Irish law concerning liability for occupational stress has developed. The paper highlights the inconsistencies in the decisions made in both jurisdictions which have inevitably led to a flawed test, and furthermore argues that though the Maher and Berber cases represent milestones in the development of this area of tort law, there is a long way to go before any satisfactory or conclusive test can be legitimately used. The paper also considers the future of liability for occupational stress.

Employers' Liability Extending to Psychiatric Damage
Putting Guidelines in Place - Sutherland v. Hatton
Adoption of the Hatton Principles
Issues Arising from the Hatton and Maher tests
The Scope of an Employers' Duty of Care

From the Paper:

"The first significant case with such circumstances was encountered by the English courts in Walker v Northumberland County Council This plaintiff was a social worker dealing with child abuse cases who suffered two nervous breakdowns; the first as a result of his increasing workload and the second as a result of his employer's continued failure to address the situation. Mr Walker brought an action for damages for personal injuries against his employers, Northumberland County Council, 'alleging breach of its duty of care as his employer in failing to take steps to avoid exposing him to a health endangering workload'. The Court held that there was no reason why psychiatric damage should be considered outside the scope of an employer's duties of care and that the County Council should have taken reasonable steps to prevent the risk of damage to their employee's psychiatric health. Here, Colman J. referred to the aforementioned, and what he referred to as "inter-related", requirements for liability in negligence.
"In other words, the ordinary principles of employer's liability were held to be applicable to a claim for psychiatric illness arising from stress in employment. It was noted nevertheless that such claims would 'often give rise to extremely difficult evidential problems of foreseeability and causation' - a harbinger of things to come."

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Marguerite Bolger, "Claiming for Occupational Stress, Bullying and Harassment" (2006) 3(4) IELJ 108.
  • Cliona Kimber, "Stress at Work - Searching for Guidance" (2004) 1(3) IELJ 80.
  • Ursula Connolly, "Sutherland v. Hatton - A Solution to Ireland's Occupational Stress Question?" (2001) 20 ILT 230.
  • Neville Cox, "Recent Developments in the Rules Relating to Workplace Stress: The Supreme Court Decision in Berber v Dunnes Stores" (2008/9) 3(3) QRTL 17.
  • McMahon and Binchy, Law of Torts (3rd ed. Lexis Nexis Butterworths, 2005)

Cite this Comparison Essay:

APA Format

Negligence in Occupational Stress Cases (2011, November 23) Retrieved March 29, 2023, from

MLA Format

"Negligence in Occupational Stress Cases" 23 November 2011. Web. 29 March. 2023. <>