Waters v Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis: HL 27 Jul 2000

A policewoman, having made a complaint of serious sexual assault against a fellow officer complained again that the Commissioner had failed to protect her against retaliatory assaults. Her claim was struck out, but restored on appeal.
Held: Her claim was arguable. It was possible that the Commissioner owed to her a similar duty as would any other employer by virtue of the section. The protection given to the police against owing a duty of care did not apply here. She was not suing as a member of the public. ‘it is clear, or at the least arguable, that duties analogous to those owed to an employee are owed to officers in the police service’. And ‘If an employer knows that acts being done by employees during their employment may cause physical or mental harm to a particular fellow employee and he does nothing to supervise or prevent such acts, when it is in his power to do so, it is clearly arguable that he may be in breach of his duty to that employee. It seems to me that he may also be in breach of that duty if he can foresee that such acts may happen and, if they do, that physical or mental harm may be caused to an individual.’
Lord Slynn of Hadley Lord Jauncey of Tullichettle Lord Clyde Lord Hutton Lord Millett
Times 01-Aug-2000, Gazette 12-Oct-2000, [2000] 1 WLR 1607, [2000] UKHL 50, [2000] IRLR 720
House of Lords, Bailii
Police Act 1996 88(1)
England and Wales
Citing:
At EATWaters v Commissioner of Police of Metropolis EAT 17-Nov-1994
. .
Appeal fromWaters v Commissioner of Police for Metropolis CA 3-Jul-1997
. .
CitedKnightley v Johns and others CA 27-Mar-1981
There had been an accident in a tunnel, blocking it. The defendant inspector ordered a traffic constable to ride into the tunnel on his motorcycle against the flow of traffic. The constable crashed and sought damages for negligence against the . .
CitedWhite, Frost and others v Chief Constable of South Yorkshire and others HL 3-Dec-1998
No damages for Psychiatric Harm Alone
The House considered claims by police officers who had suffered psychiatric injury after tending the victims of the Hillsborough tragedy.
Held: The general rules restricting the recovery of damages for pure psychiatric harm applied to the . .
CitedChief Constable of Northumbria v Costello CA 3-Dec-1998
A woman police officer was attacked by a prisoner in a cell. She sought damages for the failure of a senior officer nearby not to come to her aid, and from the chief constable under his vicarious liability.
Held: The chief constable’s appeal . .
CitedVeness v Dyson Bell and Co 25-May-1965
The claimant sought damages against her employer saying they had failed to meet their duty of care to prevent bullying.
Held: The court refused to strike out the claim that ‘[the plaintiff] was so bullied and belittled by her colleagues that . .
CitedElguzouli-Daf v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis and Another CA 16-Nov-1994
The Court upheld decisions striking out actions for negligence brought by claimants who had been arrested and held in custody during criminal investigations which were later discontinued. The Crown Prosecution Service owes no general duty of care to . .
CitedSpring v Guardian Assurance Plc and Others HL 7-Jul-1994
The plaintiff, who worked in financial services, complained of the terms of the reference given by his former employer. Having spoken of his behaviour towards members of the team, it went on: ‘his former superior has further stated he is a man of . .
CitedPetch v Customs and Excise Commissioners CA 29-Mar-1993
A former employer has no duty of care regarding the accuracy of information provided to the trustees of a pension fund regarding the work record of that employee. . .
CitedCaparo Industries Plc v Dickman and others HL 8-Feb-1990
Limitation of Loss from Negligent Mis-statement
The plaintiffs sought damages from accountants for negligence. They had acquired shares in a target company and, relying upon the published and audited accounts which overstated the company’s earnings, they purchased further shares.
Held: The . .
CitedWigan Borough Council v Davies EAT 1979
The court considered that an employer owed a duty of care and under the contract of employment to employees to protect them against ill treatment or bullying. The plaintiff sued for breach of contract.
Arnold J said: ‘We do not think that it is . .
CitedWetherall (Bond Street W1) Ltd v Lynn 1978
The court considered a claim of constructive dismissal against a claim by an employee that the employer had failed to meet its duty of care to protect an employee against bullying or ill treatment by other members of staff. If the respondent had not . .

Cited by:
CitedMullaney v Chief Constable of West Midlands Police CA 15-May-2001
The claimant police officer was severely injured making an arrest. He claimed damages from the respondent for contributory negligence of other officers in failing to come to his assistance.
Held: If a police officer owes a duty of care to . .
CitedBanks v Ablex Ltd CA 24-Feb-2005
The claimant appealed denial of her claim for damages for psychological injury. She complained that her employer had failed to prevent her and other female employees being bullied by a co-worker, and they committed a breach of statutory duty in . .
CitedJD v East Berkshire Community Health NHS Trust and others HL 21-Apr-2005
Parents of children had falsely and negligently been accused of abusing their children. The children sought damages for negligence against the doctors or social workers who had made the statements supporting the actions taken. The House was asked if . .
CitedBrooks v Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis and others HL 21-Apr-2005
The claimant was with Stephen Lawrence when they were both attacked and Mr Lawrence killed. He claimed damages for the negligent way the police had dealt with his case, and particularly said that they had failed to assess him as a victim of crime, . .
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 . .
CitedMajrowski v Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Trust CA 16-Mar-2005
The claimant had sought damages against his employer, saying that they had failed in their duty to him under the 1997 Act in failing to prevent harassment by a manager. He appealed a strike out of his claim.
Held: The appeal succeeded. The . .
CitedClark v The Chief Constable of Essex Police QBD 18-Sep-2006
The officer had retired on ill health grounds, and now sought damages from his chief constable saying that the duties imposed on him had been excessive, and had caused his injury by negligence, and that he had been bullied by co-workers and had not . .

These lists may be incomplete.
Updated: 03 January 2021; Ref: scu.159084