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#law #negligence #tort
However, in W v Essex County Council [2000] 2 All ER 237 Lord Slynn, speaking for the House of Lords, emphasised that:

[W]hilst … there has to be some temporal and spatial limitation on the persons who can claim to be secondary victims, … the concept of ‘the immediate aftermath’ of the incident has to be assessed in the particular factual situation.

In this case, the claimants claimed against the defendant council for placing with them for foster care a 15-year old boy who had a history of perpetrating sexual abuse. They (the claimants) alleged that they suffered psychiatric injury when they learned, some four weeks later, that the boy had sexually abused their children. The defendants argued that the parents did not have proximity in time or space to the acts of abuse as they had not witnessed any of the events. In considering the Alcock criteria, Lord Slynn recognised the need for flexibility when dealing with new situations which were not covered by existing precedent. The House of Lords refused to strike out the claim, holding that the claimants had an arguable case.
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