This morning the High Court of Australia published its reasons in the matter of King v Philcox [2015] HCA 19, which had been argued on 10 March 2015. The appeal concerned pure mental harm claims (see [12]) and required consideration of statutory provisions regarding mental harm claims in South Australia.

The Court wrote three judgments:

  • French CJ, Kiefel and Gageler JJ, allowed the appeal and therefore dismissed the claim made by the sibling of the deceased, despite the existence of a duty of care and its breach, because of the explicit language in the South Australian statute (Section 53, which confines the class of eligible claimants to persons present at the scene or to parents / spouses / children);
  • Keane J in a separate judgement appears to have reached the same conclusion;
  • Nettle J in a separate judgement appears to have reached the same conclusion.

Of broader relevance for mental harm claims generally is the discussion by French CJ, Kiefel and Gageler JJ at [29] regarding mental harm claims at common law.

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