Alcock and Others v Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police: CA 31 May 1991

The defendant policed a football match at which many people died. The plaintiffs, being relatives and friends of the deceased, inter alia suffered nervous shock having seen the events either from within the ground, or from outside or at home on television.
Held: To establish a claim the plaintiffs had to show that it was foreseeable that they would suffer the injury, and also a sufficiently close relationship with the deceased. If this was not a family relationship, it had to be one of particular closeness. To make a claim for damages for nervous shock, the plaintiffs must show physical proximity. Those who had seen the events on television could not so claim.
Lords Justices Parker, Stocker and Nolan
[1991] 3 All ER 88
England and Wales

  • Cited – Donoghue (or M’Alister) v Stevenson HL 26-May-1932
    Decomposed Snail in Drink – Liability
    The appellant drank from a bottle of ginger beer manufactured by the defendant. She suffered injury when she found a half decomposed snail in the liquid. The glass was opaque and the snail could not be seen. The drink had been bought for her by a . .
    [1932] AC 562, [1932] SC (HL) 31, [1932] ScLT 317, [1932] All ER Rep 1, (1932) 101 LJPC 119, (1932) 147 LT 281, [1932] SLT 317, (1932) 48 TLR 494, (1932) 37 Com Cas 350, [1932] UKHL 100, [1932] Sol Jo 396, [1932] WN 139, [1932] SC 31, (1933) 4 DLR 337, 533 CA 47
  • Doubted – Hevican v Ruane QBD 1991
    The plaintiff’s son died in a car crash, and she claimed damages for nervous shock.
    Held: Given the relationship, the psychological illness was reasonably foreseeable, and recoverable. . .
    [1991] 3 All ER 65, [1991] 141 New LJ 235
  • Doubted – Ravenscroft v Rederiaktiebolaget Transatlantic 1991
    . .
    [1991] 3 All ER 73
  • Appeal from – Alcock and Others v Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police QBD 31-Jul-1990
    Overcrowding at a football match lead to the deaths of 95 people. The defendant’s employees had charge of safety at the match, and admitted negligence vis-a-vis those who had died and been injured. The plaintiffs sought damages, some of them for . .
    [1991] 2 WLR 814, [1991] CLY 2671
  • Cited – Haynes v Harwood CA 1935
    The plaintiff, a policemen saw a horse running loose in the street among children. He ran out, chased it and caught it but was injured.
    Held: The horseowner was liable. It was foreseeable that if a horse was let loose in a crowd, somebody, . .
    [1935] 1 KB 146
  • Cited – Bourhill v Young’s Executor HL 5-Aug-1942
    When considering claims for damages for shock, the court only recognised the action lying where the injury by shock was sustained ‘through the medium of the eye or the ear without direct contact.’ Wright L said: ‘No doubt, it has long ago been . .
    [1943] AC 92, [1943] SC (HL) 78, 1943 SLT 105, [1942] UKHL 5
  • Cited – Dooley v Cammell Laird and Co Ltd 1951
    The plaintiff was a crane driver whose load of timber, drums of paint, and bags of bolts etc, and without any fault on his part, fell into the hold of a ship as they were being lowered along with scaffolding. No one was actually injured but the . .
    [1951] 1 Lloyd’s Rep 271

Cited by:

  • Appeal from – Alcock and Others v Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police HL 28-Nov-1991
    The plaintiffs sought damages for nervous shock. They had watched on television, as their relatives and friends, 96 in all, died at a football match, for the safety of which the defendants were responsible. The defendant police service had not . .
    Gazette 22-Jan-92, [1991] 3 WLR 1057, Times 29-Nov-91, [1992] 1 AC 310, [1991] UKHL 5

These lists may be incomplete.
Updated: 08 December 2020; Ref: scu.174246