• Contact Us

  • Contact Us

  • Four Courts, Dublin

    High Court, Dublin

    In the High Court case of Walter -v- Crossan [2014] IEHC 377 (High Court, Hogan J, 24 July 2014) the Court struck out a claim against several defendants who acted as solicitors for a vendor in the sale of a Wicklow property, on the grounds that the injuries suffered by the plaintiff purchasers, being damages for distress, upset and inconvenience fell short of psychiatric injury, and consequently were not recoverable in an action for negligence.

    Plaintiffs threatened with Criminal Prosecution

    The plaintiffs claimed that, as a result of the negligence of the defendants,

    Sewer cap


    they subsequently were threatened with criminal prosecution by Wicklow County Council for failure to pay charges for sewerage and other amenities. It was accepted that this letter must have been extremely upsetting and distressing for the Plaintiffs. It was also accepted that that the Plaintiffs suffered acute distress and upset as a result of these demands and threats which unfairly hung over them in the period between March 2011- March 2013.The question for the Court was whether the Plaintiffs could recover damages in negligence, as distinct to an action for Breach of Contract (the Plaintiffs could not sue the solicitors for Breach of Contract as the solicitors had not acted for the Plaintiffs, but for the Developers), for upset and inconvenience that falls short of psychiatric injury.

    No Psychiatric Injury

    The Court found that the plaintiffs’ case must fail on grounds that claim for mental distress that falls short of psychiatric injury cannot be sustained in negligence. The Court noted that such a claim may be maintained in law of contract, but no such claim made against 3rd -6th defendants – Court strikes out claim pursuant to its inherent jurisdiction.

    Mr Justice Hogan concluded his Decision by stating :
    In these circumstances, I feel compelled to strike out the case as against the Hayes McGrath defendants alone pursuant to the inherent jurisdiction of the Court. I take this step reluctantly, but do so only on the very narrow ground that the injuries which the plaintiffs suffered (mental distress, upset and inconvenience falling short of nervous shock or psychiatric illness) are not recoverable in an action for negligence, as distinct from an action for breach of contract.”