Sutherland v Hatton: A Solution to Ireland's Occupational Stress Question?

Connolly, Ursula
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Connolly, Ursula. (2002). Sutherland v Hatton: A Solution to Ireland's Occupational Stress Question? Irish Law Times, 20.
The Irish Courts have not dealt with the issue of occupational stress claims in any great detail. However, in a recent UK decision, Sutherland v Hatton1 , where four separate appeals were joined together, the Court of Appeal took the opportunity to consider the question of such claims in depth. There has been a growing awareness of the issue since the English decision of Walker v Northumberland County Council2 in 1995, where an employee successfully sued his employer for personal injury arising from two nervous breakdowns suffered as a result of workplace stress.3 It is a debate that has gripped both the National Authority for Occupational Health and Safety (HSA)4 in Ireland and the European Union, which has designated 2002 as ‘Workplace Stress Prevention Year’. While it is accepted that the prevention of stress is a valuable focus for the debate, there is no question that stress is an unavoidable element of most occupations, and in many cases does not lead to any adverse consequences. It is only when foreseeable injury arises as a result of occupational stress that an employer should face liability, but until this most recent decision there has been little judicial guidance in the area. The decision in Sutherland is valuable, as it lays down practical guidelines as to when liability may be imposed.
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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Ireland