Hayes v Willoughby: CA 13 Dec 2011

Harassment Occurs on the Result, not the Intention

The claimant said that over several years, the respondent had pursued him in many ways challenging his management of a company’s affairs. Complaints had been investigated by the insolvency service and by the police who had discovered nothing to support futher action. The respondent said that his behaviour was excused by the Act as an investigation of potentially criminal activity, and did not amount to a course of conduct as such.
Held: The claimant’s appeal succeeded and an injunction was granted. The section refers to the course of conduct itself, not the intention of the person conducting it. ‘S.1(3)(a) is confined to a course of conduct the purpose of which is preventing or detecting crime. There is no reason to protect a defendant whose course of conduct constitutes harassment because one of the purposes is the prevention or detection of crime unless his course of conduct was reasonable . . There is no warrant for conflating the purpose of the course of conduct with the purpose of the person who pursues that conduct. The two are by no means necessarily the same. There is no need to read into the sub-section a test as to whether the conduct was reasonable in its purpose of preventing or detecting crime.’
‘the purpose and effect of Section 1(3) is to exclude from any legislative prohibition conduct which would otherwise be oppressive, unacceptable and likely to cause substantial damage to the quality of a victim’s life. It would, accordingly, impede and be inimical to the protection the provisions are designed to afford to allow complicated debate to arise as to the statutory meaning of the purpose. The statutory protection for victims of a course of conduct which would be judged harassment would be baulked if the those charged with finding and assessing the facts, magistrates, juries or judges, were required to draw the familiar but often difficult distinction between motive and purpose, between predominant or main purposes and subsidiary purposes, between substantial or minimal purposes or between purpose and effect which has bedevilled other statutes.’

Moses, Sullivan, Gross LJJ
[2011] EWCA Civ 1541, [2012] 1 WLR 1510
Protection from Harassment Act 1997 1
England and Wales
CitedRegina v Colohan CACD 17-May-2001
The defendant appealed against his convictions for harassment. He said that since he suffered from schizophrenia, the test for whether his actions had been reasonable should be relaxed.
Held: The test of whether actions constituted harassment . .
CitedPercy v Director of Public Prosecutions Admn 21-Dec-2001
The defendant had been convicted of using words or behaviour likely to cause harassment alarm or distress, when she defaced the US flag, and stood on it before a US military officer. She said that the defacing of flags was a common form of protest, . .
CitedInland Revenue v Hashmi and Another CA 3-May-2002
The question for the court was whether when there was more than one purpose of a transaction the proscribed purpose under the section had to be dominant or not.
Held: It was not necessary for the proscribed purpose to be the dominant purpose; . .
Not followedEDO MBM v Axworthy QBD 4-Nov-2005
The several defendants were said to have conducted against the claimants, protesting at their involvement in arms design and manufacture. The claimant sought orders under the 1997 Act to restrain them thus protecting its staff.
Held: The . .
MentionedCallaghan v Independent News and Media Ltd QBNI 7-Jan-2009
The claimant was convicted in 1987 of a callous sexual murder. He sought an order preventing the defendant newspaper publishing anything to allow his or his family’s identification and delay his release. The defendant acknowledged the need to avoid . .
CitedConn v Sunderland CA 7-Nov-2007
The claimant said that he had been harassed by the respondent through an employee.
Held: Under the 1997 Act, the behaviour had to go beyond the regrettable to the unacceptable, and would be of such gravity as would sustain criminal liability . .
CitedKD v Chief Constable of Hampshire QBD 23-Nov-2005
The claimant’s daughter had made a complaint of rape. She alleged that she was sexually harassed by the investigating police officer, and sought damages also from the defendant, his employer. The officer denied that anything improper or . .
CitedMajrowski v Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Trust HL 12-Jul-2006
Employer can be liable for Managers Harassment
The claimant employee sought damages, saying that he had been bullied by his manager and that bullying amounting to harassment under the 1997 Act. The employer now appealed a finding that it was responsible for a tort committed by a manager, saying . .
CitedHowlett v Holding QBD 25-Jan-2006
The court had granted an injunction to restrain the defendant from flying aircraft trailing banners abusive of the claimant. He now said that this infringed his right to free speech, and that his actions were permitted by virtue of section 1(3).
Cited by:
Appeal fromHayes v Willoughby SC 20-Mar-2013
The claimant and appellant had been employer and employee who had fallen out, with a settlement in 2005. The appellant then began an unpleasant and obsessive personal vendetta against Mr Hayes, complaining to public bodies with allegations of tax . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Torts – Other

Updated: 02 November 2021; Ref: scu.449984