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McFarlane v EE Caledonia

[1994] 2 All ER 1

Case summary last updated at 19/01/2020 10:53 by the Oxbridge Notes in-house law team.

Judgement for the case McFarlane v EE Caledonia

P was a painter on an oil rig where there was an explosion and fires killing many people. He claimed for nervous shock as a primary victim. CA reject his claim on grounds that he could easily have taken cover/removed himself from situation, and it was not reasonably foreseeable that he would have been harmed. 
CA: in addition to proximity (satisfied- he was 100m from the fire) and reasonable foreseeability that an ordinary man in P’s position would suffer psychiatric injury, he had to prove one of 3 possible conditions for personal safety fear requirement: (1) he was in the actual area of danger created by the event, even though he escaped; (2) although not in danger he reasonably thought he was because of the unexpected nature of the event; (3) He came into danger area as a rescuer
Stuart Smith LJ contests the assertion of Lord Ackner (above) and says that to allow simple bystanders with no connection to those being harmed would be to create a test purely based on reasonable foreseeability because it would allow too many people to claim nervous shock e.g. if a building falls down. However in this case it was not reasonably foreseeable that an ordinary man in P’s position would suffer nervous shock. 

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