Calls for Reform to Psychiatric Injury Legislation

17 March 2014

As the 25th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster approaches, a reform of psychiatric injury legislation has been called for by the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL).

The association has requested that the criteria applied to psychiatric injury claims are broadened.

Current criteria arose from the case of Alcock v Chief Constable of Yorkshire Police. This claim for psychiatric injury was brought by numerous individuals who witnessed the tragic deaths of family and friends during the Hillsborough disaster.

The court split claimants into two separate groups; ‘primary victims’ and ‘secondary victims’. The first group was made up of those who were, or were at risk of being, physically injured, and the second included those who had not been at physical risk.

While primary victims could claim for psychiatric injury, secondary victims were required to meet specific criteria before being able to do so, and subsequent cases have followed these criteria.

with the deceased or injured party, such as that held between parents and children, as well as spouses. Close relationships between other immediate family members such as siblings, however, must be proven in court.

Another criterion is that the event must be a sudden shock that has an immediate negative impact on a claimant’s psychological state. APIL are calling for changes to these criteria, arguing that ties between, siblings, civil partners, and others with close relationships, should be automatically recognised. They also believe the term ‘shocking’, with regards to the injurious event, should be replaced with ‘distressing’.

Victoria Pryer is a Trainee Solicitor at Advance Legal. Please contact Victoria or another member of the team on 0800 068 00 69 and they will be happy to discuss your compensation claim with you.