Meah v McCreamer (No 1): QBD 1985

The claimant had suffered serious brain damage as a result of the defendant’s negligence, resulting in a personality change which caused him to commit offences for which he was imprisoned. He sought damages for that imprisonment.
Held: Woolf J said: ‘this case is unusual because it is not suggested that he has suffered any financial loss as a result of going into prison. He is a person who might have worked from time to time, but the money he has saved as a result of being boarded in prison has apparently been regarded as outweighing his loss. So I approach this case on the basis that there is no continuing financial loss as result of his being in prison . .’ and ‘If the plaintiff has been convicted and sentenced for a crime, it means that the criminal law has taken him to be responsible for his actions, and has imposed an appropriate penalty. He or she should therefore bear the consequences of the punishment, both direct and indirect. If the law of negligence were to say, in effect, that the offender was not responsible for his actions and should be compensated by the tortfeasor, it would set the determination of the criminal court at nought. It would generate the sort of clash between civil and criminal law that is apt to bring the law into disrepute.’


Woolf J


[1985] 1 All ER 367


England and Wales

Cited by:

CitedIndependent Assessor v O’Brien, Hickey, Hickey CA 29-Jul-2004
The claimants had been imprisoned for many years before their convictions were quashed. They claimed compensation under the Act. The assessor said that there should be deducted from the award the living expenses they would have incurred if they had . .
CitedO’Brien and others v Independent Assessor HL 14-Mar-2007
The claimants had been wrongly imprisoned for a murder they did not commit. The assessor had deducted from their compensation a sum to represent the living costs they would have incurred if living freely. They also appealed differences from a . .
CitedMeah v McCreamer (No 2) 1986
The court rejected an attempt to recover the damages which the plaintiff had been found liable to pay to two women whom he had subjected to criminal attacks. The damages were too remote. But the claim would also have been rejected on the public . .
CitedGray v Thames Trains and Others HL 17-Jun-2009
The claimant suffered psychiatric injury in a rail crash caused by the defendant’s negligence. Under this condition of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, the claimant had later gone on to kill another person, and he had been detained under section 41. . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Negligence, Damages

Updated: 29 April 2022; Ref: scu.190028