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Review Your SQE 1 Practice Records

Examination Timing: 00H01M14S

A lorry careered down a steep hill and crashed into a school after the driver negligently left it unattended at the top of the hill. Emma had just left her daughter at the school but had already turned a corner into the next street when she saw the runaway lorry. Fearing for her daughter's safety, she suffered psychiatric harm when she was told that a girl of similar description to her daughter had been injured, while she rushed to the scene. Would Emma have a claim for psychiatric harm under these circumstances?

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It would be absurd to deny a mother who sustained psychiatric illness as a result of fearing for her child's safety, when on similar facts a mother could succeed in a claim if, not thinking of her child, she was frightened only for her own safety. In Hambrook v Stokes Bros [1925], it was established that a claimant could recover for psychiatric harm if they perceived the incident with their own unaided senses and feared for the safety of a loved one. Emma saw the runaway lorry and feared for her daughter's safety, satisfying the criteria for claiming psychiatric harm. 

Key Point: The case of Hambrook v Stokes Bros highlights that a claimant can recover for psychiatric harm if they witness an incident with their own senses and fear for the safety of a loved one. This extends the scope of liability for psychiatric harm beyond direct physical impact, recognising the severe emotional distress that can result from witnessing danger to loved ones.

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