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Published 21 February 2019
The judgment last year of the High Court in Piepenbrock v London School of Economics and Political Science ('LSE'), confirms the importance of foreseeability as a barrier to Claimants' success in occupational stress claims. The case received considerable coverage in the press, but was at heart a traditional, if complicated and high value, claim.
The Claimant, a teaching fellow at LSE, brought a claim against his employer, alleging occupational stress. There were two alleged causes of the stress.
Firstly, he alleged that LSE were vicariously liable for the actions of a graduate teaching assistant who it was alleged had harassed him both in the United Kingdom and on a trip to the United States.
Secondly, he alleged that LSE had failed properly to handle the investigation which resulted when the graduate teaching assistant raised a complaint against the Claimant.
The Claimant sought damages of around £4million for the loss of his career, and general damages.
The actions of the graduate teaching assistant did not amount to harassment as her actions were reasonable. Further, whilst the subsequent investigation by LSE was not perfect, any failings were not sufficiently serious to give raise to a foreseeable risk of injury.
The Claimant's claim therefore failed on foreseeability.
The Claimant sought leave to appeal which was refused by a single Judge of the Court of Appeal on 14th February 2019.
DAC Beachcroft acted for the successful Defendant in this claim.
Our EL / PL team deal with employers’ liability and public liability claims on a regular basis. For more information or advice, please contact one of our experts.
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