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 personal injuries by way of nervous shock, having seen the match on television, and knowing that their relatives were in the crowd.
Held: It was reasonably foreseeable that close family members of the deceased who saw the events on television would suffer nervous shock, as also would those themselves involved as rescuers. Others who were not physically present, or who were not close family members should not recover.
Mr Justice Hidden
[1991] 2 WLR 814, [1991] CLY 2671
England and Wales

  • Applied – McLoughlin v O’Brian HL 6-May-1982
    The plaintiff was the mother of a child who died in an horrific accident, in which her husband and two other children were also injured. She was at home at the time of the accident, but went to the hospital immediately when she had heard what had . .
    [1983] 1 AC 410, [1982] 2 All ER 298, [1982] UKHL 3, [1982] 2 WLR 982
  • Cited – Victorian Railway Commissioners v Coultas PC 21-Jan-1888
    (Victoria) The appellant’s gatekeeper had negligently invited the plaintiffs to cross a railway line as a train approached. There was no collision, but the plaintiff sought damages for physical and mental injuries from shock.
    Held: The . .
    (1888) 13 App Cas 222, [1888] UKPC 3, (1888) LR 13 App Cas 222
  • Cited – Le Lievre v Gould CA 6-Feb-1893
    Mortgagees of the interest of a builder under a building agreement, advanced money to him from time to time, relying upon certificates given by a surveyor as to stages reached. The surveyor was not appointed by the mortgagees, and there was no . .
    [1893] 1 QB 491, (1893) 9 The Times LR 243, (1893) 62 LJQB 353, (1893) 68 LT 626, (1893) 57 JP 484, [1893] UKLawRpKQB 27
  • Cited – Dulieu v White and Sons KBD 1901
    A pregnant barmaid suffered nervous shock causing her to give premature birth as a result of the tortfeasor’s horse van bursting into her bar at the Bonner Arms in Bethnal Green from the roadway. The defendant pleaded that the damages claimed were . .
    [1901] 2 KB 669
  • Cited – Hambrook v Stokes Brothers CA 1925
    The defendant’s employee left a lorry at the top of a steep narrow street unattended, with the engine running and without having taken proper steps to secure it. The lorry ran violently down the hill. The plaintiff’s wife had been walking up the . .
    [1925] 1 KB 141
  • 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
  • Cited – Jaensch v Coffey 20-Aug-1984
    (High Court of Australia) The claimant’s husband was injured. She saw his injuries at hospital and was affected. She claimed damages for her own shock.
    Held: The driver owed her a duty of care, and was liable for negligence which caused . .
    (1984) 55 CLR 549, [1984] 54 ALR 417, [1985] CLY 2326, [1984] HCA 52
  • Cited – Caparo Industries Plc v Dickman and others HL 8-Feb-1990
    Limitation of Loss from Negligent Mis-statement
    The plaintiffs sought damages from accountants for negligence. They had acquired shares in a target company and, relying upon the published and audited accounts which overstated the company’s earnings, they purchased further shares.
    Held: The . .
    [1990] 2 AC 605, [1990] UKHL 2, [1990] 1 All ER 568
  • Cited – Currie v Wardrop 1927
    The pursuer was walking arm in arm with her fiance when he was hit by a vehicle driven by the defender.
    Held: She recovered damages for nervous shock involving apprehension for her own safety and the safety of her fiance, though he was hit and . .
    1927 SC 538
  • 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 – Owens v Liverpool Corporation CA 1938
    Four family mourners at a funeral appealed against rejection of their claims for damages for distress caused by witnessing a collision between a negligently driven tramcar and the hearse.The incident had involved no apprehension, or sight, or sound . .
    [1939] 1 KB 394, [1938] 4 All ER 727, 55 TLR 246
  • 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 – Bonnington Castings Ltd v Wardlaw HL 1-Mar-1956
    The injury of which the employee complained came from two sources, a pneumatic hammer, in respect of which the employers were not in breach of the relevant Regulations; and swing grinders, in respect of which they were in breach.
    Held: It had . .
    [1956] 1 All ER 615 HL(Sc), [1956] 2 WLR 707, [1956] AC 613, 1956 SC (HL) 26, [1956] UKHL 1
  • Cited – Wilsher v Essex Area Health Authority HL 24-Jul-1986
    A premature baby suffered injury after mistaken treatment by a hospital doctor. He had inserted a monitor into the umbilical vein. The claimant suggested the treatment should have been by a more senior doctor. The hospital appealed a finding that it . .
    [1988] AC 1074, [1988] 1 All ER 871, [1987] UKHL 11

Cited by:

  • Appeal from – 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 . .
    [1991] 3 All ER 88
  • Distinguished – 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

These lists may be incomplete.
Updated: 08 December 2020; Ref: scu.174245