Court of Appeal limit secondary victim claims

In Paul v Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust [2022] EWCA Civ 12, the Court of Appeal (Sir Geoffrey Vos MR, Underhill LJ and Nicola Davies LJ) heard appeals against 3 strike out cases, all involving clinical negligence. In Paul, the claimants’ case was that the hospital had been careless in November 2012 when it had failed to diagnose the primary victim as suffering from severe coronary artery disease, as a result of which he had an unexpected heart attack in January 2014 and died. The heart attack and death were witnessed by his two daughters, the claimants in Paul. Their case was that they were entitled to claim as secondary victims given that the horrifying event of the heart attack and death were the first manifestation of damage to the primary victim which it was the defendant’s duty to avoid. In the two other appeals joined to Paul, the claimants contended that it sufficed that the horrifying event was caused by the defendant’s breach of duty.

The Court of Appeal held itself bound by an earlier Court of Appeal decision of Taylor v Novo [2014] QB 150 to hold that a secondary victim could only claim in respect of a horrifying event which occurred at the time of the defendant’s breach of duty. Recognising the unfairness of this position, the Court of Appeal has granted permission to the claimants to appeal to the Supreme Court.

Rob Weir QC acted for the claimants in Paul with Laura Johnson of 1 Chancery Lane, instructed by Phil Barnes of Shoosmiths LLP.

To read the full judgment, please click here.

Back to News

Additional Information