Flashcards in Trespass to Person - The Rule in Wilkinson v Downton Deck (14)
What does the rule in Wilkinson v Downton relate to?
Intentional infliction of emotional or physical harm.
What are the details of the Wilkinson v Downton case?
For a joke the defendant falsely told the claimant that her husband had been involved in an accident in which he had been seriously injured.
What was the finding of the Wilkinson v Downton case?
It was held that the defendant “had ‘wilfully done an act calculated to cause physical harm to the female [claimant] – that is to say, infringe her right to personal safety, and thereby in fact caused physical harm to her. That proposition, without more appears to me to state a good cause of action, there being no justification alleged for the act’
What are the three current criteria for actions under the Wilkinson v Downton Rule?
1. Conduct Element
2. Mental Element
3. Consequence Element
What is the conduct criteria/element for actions under the Wilkinson v Downton Rule?
Conduct Element - The defendant must “use words or conduct directed to the claimant for which there is no justification or reasonable excuse”.
What is the mental criteria/element for actions under the Wilkinson v Downton Rule?
Mental Element - The words or conduct must be intended to cause the claimant physical harm or severe mental or emotional distress.
Is recklessness as to the physical or emotional harm caused sufficient?
No - recklessness is not sufficient - as demonstrated in the case of Rhodes v OPO
What is the consequence criteria/element for actions under the Wilkinson v Downton Rule?
Consequence Element - The claimant must suffer physical harm or a recognised psychological injury as a consequence.
Is emotional distress a sufficient consequence for an action under the Wilkinson v Downton Rule?
Emotional distress is not sufficient and thus is not actionable per se.
Which two cases illustrate application of the criteria laid out for a successful action under the Wilkinson v Downton Rule?
1. Wainwright v Home Office
2. Rhodes v OPO
What are the details of the Wainwright Case?
Mrs Wainwright and her son, had been subjected to strip searches by prison officers while visiting a family member in Leeds prison, which were not conducted according to the prison rules. Both were left visibly distressed by the experience.
What are the findings of the Wainwright Case?
It was held, however, that there was no claim under the rule in Wilkinson v Downtown as;
(a) not sufficient intention or recklessness to cause harm by the prison officers, and;
(b) no recognised psychiatric harm caused.
What are the details of the Rhodes Case?
A Pianist wished to publish his autobiography, including details of the sexual abuse he suffered in school and his consequent mental health issues. An action to prevent publication was brought under the Rule on behalf of his son who it was argued would be distressed by the publication.