Rhodes v OPO and Another: SC 20 May 2015

The mother sought to prevent a father from publishing a book about her child’s life. It was to contain passages she said may cause psychological harm to the 12 year old son. Mother and son lived in the USA and the family court here had no jurisdiction to grant orders protecting the child’s welfare. Instead, these proceedings were brought in his name, originally by his mother and now by his godfather as his litigation friend, alleging that publication would constitute a tort against him.
Held: The appeal was allowed, and the original order striking out the claim was restored, clearly failing to meet all but one of the requirements. ‘there is plainly a powerful case for saying that, in relation to the instant tort, liability for distressing statements, where intent to cause distress is an essential ingredient, it should be enough for the claimant to establish that he suffered significant distress as a result of the defendant’s statement. It is not entirely easy to see why, if an intention to cause the claimant significant distress is an ingredient of the tort and is enough to establish the tort in principle, the claimant should have to establish that he suffered something more serious than significant distress before he can recover any compensation. Further, the narrow restrictions on the tort should ensure that it is rarely invoked anyway.’
Lord Neuberger, President, Lady Hale, Deputy President, Lord Clarke, Lord Wilson, Lord Toulson
[2015] 2 WLR 137, [2015] UKSC 32, [2016] AC 219, [2015] EMLR 20, [2015] HRLR 11, [2015] WLR(D) 227, [2015] 4 All ER 1, UKSC 2014/0251
Bailii, WLRD, Bailii Summary, SC, SC Summary, SC Video Summary
England and Wales
CitedWilkinson v Downton 8-May-1997
Thomas Wilkinson, the landlord of a public house, went off by train, leaving his wife Lavinia behind the bar. A customer of the pub, Downton played a practical joke on her. He told her, falsely, that her husband had been involved in an accident and . .
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 . .
CitedIn re Guardian News and Media Ltd and Others; HM Treasury v Ahmed and Others SC 27-Jan-2010
Proceedings had been brought to challenge the validity of Orders in Council which had frozen the assets of the claimants in those proceedings. Ancillary orders were made and confirmed requiring them not to be identified. As the cases came to the . .
CitedCampbell v Mirror Group Newspapers Ltd (MGN) (No 1) HL 6-May-2004
The claimant appealed against the denial of her claim that the defendant had infringed her right to respect for her private life. She was a model who had proclaimed publicly that she did not take drugs, but the defendant had published a story . .
CitedCream Holdings Limited and others v Banerjee and others HL 14-Oct-2004
On her dismissal from the claimant company, Ms Banerjee took confidential papers revealing misconduct to the local newspaper, which published some. The claimant sought an injunction to prevent any further publication. The defendants argued that the . .
At First InstanceOPO v MLA and Another QBD 18-Jul-2014
A boy now sought an interim injunction to restrain his father, the defendant classical musician, from publishing his autobiography which mentioned him. The book would say that the father had suffered sexual abuse as a child at school.
Held: . .
CitedJanvier v Sweeney 1919
During the First World War Mlle Janvier lived as a paid companion in a house in Mayfair and corresponded with her German lover who was interned as an enemy alien on the Isle of Man. Sweeney was a private detective who wanted secretly to obtain some . .
CitedMcLoughlin 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 . .
CitedKhorasandjian v Bush CA 16-Feb-1993
The plaintiff was an eighteen year old girl who had had a friendship with the defendant, aged 28. The friendship broke down and the plaintiff said she would have no more to do with him, but the defendant did not accept this. There were many . .
CitedBromage And Another v Prosser 1825
Bayley J distinguished ‘malice in law’, inferred from the defendant’s intentional interference with the plaintiff’s rights, from ‘malice in fact’ and Malice in common acceptation of the term means ill-will against a person, but in its legal sense it . .
CitedRegina v Martin CCCR 1881
r_martin CCCCR
The defendant was accused of unlawful conduct in causing panic at a theatre (by turning off the lights and barring the doors) in the course of which a number of people were injured by trampling as they stampeded down a stairway. His conduct was . .
CitedThe Capital and Counties Bank Limited v George Henty and Sons HL 1882
The defendant wrote to their customers saying ‘Henty and Sons hereby give notice that they will not receive in payment cheques drawn on any of the branches of the Capital and Counties Bank.’ The contents of the circular became known and there was a . .
CitedMogul Steamship Company Limited v McGregor Gow and Co QBD 10-Aug-1885
Ship owners formed themselves into an association to protect their trading interests which then caused damage to rival ship owners. The plaintiffs complained about being kept out of the conference of shipowners trading between China and London.
CitedMayor of Bradford v Pickles HL 29-Jul-1895
The plaintiffs sought an injunction to prevent the defendant interfering with the supply of water to the city. He would have done so entirely by actions on his own land.
Held: The plaintiffs could have no property in the water until it came on . .
CitedAllen v Flood HL 14-Dec-1898
Tort of Malicicious Inducement not Committed
The defendant, on behalf of a group of ironworkers, persuaded their employers in Milwall to stop employing the plaintiff shipwrights. There was no breach of contract. The plaintiffs alleged that this conduct gave rise to liability in tort on the . .
Not good lawDirector of Public Prosecutions v Smith HL 1960
The defendant tried to avoid arrest and killed a policeman by driving off with the policeman clinging to the car.
Held: (1) The defendant committed murder because death or grievous bodily harm was foreseen by him as a ‘likely’ result of his . .
CitedAllsop v Allsop 25-Apr-1860
Complaint was made of illness allegedly caused by a slanderous imputation of unchastity to a married woman. The woman heard the slander at third hand. It was held that the woman could not claim special damages for her illness in an action for . .
CitedLynch v Knight HL 17-Jul-1861
Lord Wensleydale said: ‘Mental pain or anxiety the law cannot value, and does not pretend to redress, when the unlawful act complained of causes that alone; though where material damage occurs, and is connected with it, it is impossible a jury, in . .
CitedVictorian 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 . .
CitedPugh v London, Brighton and South Coast Railway Co CA 1896
The plaintiff signalman saw that there was something wrong one of the carriages of a train approaching at full speed so that the train was in danger. He leant from the window of his signal-box and waved a red flag so that the driver might stop the . .
CitedDulieu 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 . .
CitedStevenson v Basham 1922
(New Zealand) The defendant made a threat to the plaintiff’s husband inside the house that she and her husband were occupying to burn it down, the threat being overheard by her when she was in a bedroom where she was lying and when she was pregnant . .
CitedHambrook 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 . .
CitedBunyan v Jordan 1-Mar-1937
(High Court of Australia) The plaintiff sought damages having been put to severe fright by a shot fired by her employer, the defendant, who had stated an intention to shoot someone, gone to a local thoroughfare with a gun, produced it and fired it. . .
CitedRahemtulla v Vanfed Credit Union 1984
(British Columbia Supreme Court) The plaintiff had been harassed at work, falsely accused of theft in threatening circumstances and summarily dismissed without proper cause in a humiliating fashion. The defendant submitted that to be liable for . .
CitedBradley v Wingnut Films Ltd 1993
(New Zealand High Court) The plaintiffs complained that a relative’s tombstone was depicted in a satiric film set in part in a cemetery, and containing a significant degree of gore and violence. The tombstone was never shown in its entirety, . .
CitedHedley Byrne and Co Ltd v Heller and Partners Ltd HL 28-May-1963
Banker’s Liability for Negligent Reference
The appellants were advertising agents. They were liable themselves for advertising space taken for a client, and had sought a financial reference from the defendant bankers to the client. The reference was negligent, but the bankers denied any . .
CitedWong v Parkside Health NHS Trust and Another CA 16-Nov-2001
The claimant had sued her former employer for post-traumatic stress resulting from alleged harassment at her place of work. The claimant appealed against an order refusing damages. The court had held that outside the 1997 Act which was not in force . .
CitedHer Majesty’s Attorney General v Punch Limited and another HL 12-Dec-2002
A former MI5 agent, Mr Shayler, was to be prosecuted under the Official Secrets Act, and an injunction against publication was granted. The respondent published further works by Mr Shayler, and now appealed a finding that it had acted in contempt of . .
CitedRegina v G and R HL 16-Oct-2003
The defendants, young boys, had set fire to paper and thrown the lit papers into a wheelie bin, expecting the fire to go out. In fact substantial damage was caused. The House was asked whether a conviction was proper under the section where the . .
CitedHigh Parklane Consulting Inc v Lewis 16-Jan-2007
(Ontario – Superior Court of Justice) . .
CitedNapier and Another v Pressdram Ltd CA 19-May-2009
The claimant solicitors appealed against the refusal to grant them an injunction to prevent the publication of the outcome of a complaint against them to the Law society, and of the Ombudsman’s report. They said that the material remained . .

Cited by:
CitedBains and Others v Moore and Others QBD 15-Feb-2017
The claimant anti-asbestos campaigners complained that the defendant investigators had infringed their various rights of privacy. They now sought discovery to support the claim.
Held: the contents of the witness statements do show that it is . .
CitedNT 1 and NT 2 v Google Llc QBD 13-Apr-2018
Right to be Forgotten is not absolute
The two claimants separately had criminal convictions from years before. They objected to the defendant indexing third party web pages which included personal data in the form of information about those convictions, which were now spent. The claims . .
CitedHRH The Duchess of Sussex v Associated Newspapers Ltd ChD 11-Feb-2021
Defence had no prospect of success – Struck Out
The claimant complained that the defendant newspaper had published contents from a letter she had sent to her father. The court now considered her claims in breach of privacy and copyright, and her request for summary judgment.
Held: Warby J . .

These lists may be incomplete.
Updated: 16 July 2021; Ref: scu.546914