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 too remote.
Held: In principle ‘terror wrongfully induced and inducing physical mischief gives a cause of action.’ The plaintiff could recover in respect of the physical consequences of ‘nervous shock’ caused by reason of ‘reasonable fear of immediate personal injury to oneself’.
Kennedy J considered the argument that fright, where physical injury is directly produced by it, cannot be a ground of action merely because of the absence of any accompanying impact, to be ‘both unreasonable and contrary to the weight of authority.’ The argument was unreasonable and contrary to the weight of authority, but he limited the type of shock for which damages were recoverable to that suffered from fear for oneself only: ‘The shock, where it operates through the mind, must be a shock which arises from a reasonable fear of immediate personal injury to oneself.’
Phillimore J, Kennedy J
[1901] 2 KB 669
England and Wales
Citing:
Not FollowedVictorian 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 . .

Cited by:
CitedWainwright and another v Home Office HL 16-Oct-2003
The claimant and her son sought to visit her other son in Leeds Prison. He was suspected of involvement in drugs, and therefore she was subjected to strip searches. There was no statutory support for the search. The son’s penis had been touched . .
CitedCooper v Caledonian Railway Co 1902
Recovery of damages for psychiatric injury. . .
CitedSimmons v British Steel plc HL 29-Apr-2004
The claimant was injured at work as a consequence of the defender’s negligence. His injuries became more severe, and he came to suffer a disabling depression.
Held: the Inner House had been wrong to characterise the Outer House decision as . .
CitedSimmons v British Steel plc HL 29-Apr-2004
The claimant was injured at work as a consequence of the defender’s negligence. His injuries became more severe, and he came to suffer a disabling depression.
Held: the Inner House had been wrong to characterise the Outer House decision as . .
CitedDonachie v The Chief Constable of the Greater Manchester Police CA 7-Apr-2004
The claimant had been asked to work under cover. The surveillance equipment he was asked to use was faulty, requiring him to put himself at risk repeatedly to maintain it resulting in a stress disorder and a stroke.
Held: There was a direct . .
CitedRothwell v Chemical and Insulating Co Ltd and Another CA 26-Jan-2006
Each claimant sought damages after being exposed to asbestos dust. The defendants resisted saying that the injury alleged, the development of pleural plaques, was yet insufficient as damage to found a claim.
Held: (Smith LJ dissenting) The . .
CitedFrench and others v Chief Constable of Sussex Police CA 28-Mar-2006
The claimants sought damages for psychiatric injury. They were police officers who had been subject to unsuccessful proceedings following a shooting of a member of the public by their force.
Held: The claim failed: ‘these claimants have no . .
CitedAlcock 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 . .
CitedRhodes v OPO and Another SC 20-May-2015
The mother sought to prevent a father from publishing a book about his life. It was to contain passages she said may cause psychological harm to their 12 year old son. Mother and son lived in the USA and the family court here had no jurisdiction to . .

These lists may be incomplete.
Updated: 21 January 2021; Ref: scu.186860