Halford v Brookes: CA 1991

The plaintiff, the mother and administratrix of the estate of a 16 year old girl, alleged that her daughter had been murdered by one or both of the Defendants. The claim was for damages for battery. Rougier J at first instance had decided that: ‘where the burden of proof is concerned it is my view that I should adopt the equivalent of the criminal standard . . I have proceeded, as indeed Mr Scrivener invited me to, on the basis that no-one, whether in a criminal or a civil court, should be declared guilty of murder, certainly not such a terrible murder as this, unless the Tribunal were sure that the evidence did not admit of any other sensible conclusion’, and went on to hold that he was sure that both Defendants were party to the murder of the deceased. Strictly speaking therefore, his decision as to the standard of proof was not essential to the result, since the Claimant would have succeeded whatever the standard of proof; and indeed was reached on the basis of a concession by leading counsel for the plaintiff.
Held: The court discussed the meaning of ‘knowledge’ for the purposes of the 1980 Act.
Held: Lord Donaldson of Lymington MR said: ‘In this context ‘knowledge’ clearly does not mean ‘know for certain and beyond possibility of contradiction.’ It does, however, mean ‘know with sufficient confidence to justify embarking on the preliminaries to the issue of a writ, such as submitting a claim to the proposed defendant, taking legal and other advice and collecting evidence.’ and ‘suspicion, particularly if it is vague and unsupported, will indeed not be enough, but reasonable belief will normally suffice.’
Motives above and beyond obtaining damages – which a plaintiff may have in pursuing his claims in battery neither enhance nor damage his case for allowing those claims to proceed.
Lord Donaldson of Lymington MR
[1991] 1 WLR 428, [1991] 3 All ER 559
Limitation Act 1980
England and Wales
Cited by:
AppliedO’Driscoll v Dudley Health Authority CA 30-Apr-1998
The plaintiff sought damages for the negligence of the respondent in her care at birth. Years later the family concluded that her condition was a result of negligence. They waited until she was 21, when they mistakenly believed that she became an . .
CitedDobbie v Medway Health Authority CA 11-May-1994
The plaintiff had a lump on her breast. The surgeon, without first subjecting the lump to a microscopic examination in order to determine whether it was cancerous or benign, removed the breast. This was in 1973. The lump was subsequently found to be . .
CitedHaward and others v Fawcetts HL 1-Mar-2006
The claimant sought damages from his accountants, claiming negligence. The accountants pleaded limitation. They had advised him in connection with an investment in a company which investment went wrong.
Held: It was argued that the limitation . .
CitedSmith v Leicestershire Health Authority CA 29-Jan-1998
The plaintiff appealed a finding that she had sufficient knowledge of her possible claim for medical negligence against the defendants, and that she was out of time. She had known of her condition, but said she had no sufficient reason to see that . .
CitedAshley and Another v Chief Constable of Sussex Police HL 23-Apr-2008
The claimants sought to bring an action for damages after a family member suspected of dealing drugs, was shot by the police. At the time he was naked. The police officer had been acquitted by a criminal court of murder. The chief constable now . .
CitedMinistry of Defence v AB and Others SC 14-Mar-2012
The respondent Ministry had, in 1958, conducted experimental atmospheric explosions of atomic weapons. The claimants had been obliged as servicemen to observe the explosions, and appealed against dismissal of their claims for radiation sickness . .
Not followedBento v The Chief Constable of Bedfordshire Police QBD 1-Jun-2012
The claimant had been convicted of the murder of his girlfriend. On his acquittal on appeal, the police criticised the CPS decision not to retry the claimant, in effect, the claimant now said, continuing the accusation against him, and so defaming . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.
Updated: 14 October 2021; Ref: scu.186435