Walker v Northumberland County Council (1995)
This case is notable as one of the first successful claims for work-related stress. Mr Walker was employed by Northumberland County Council as a senior social worker. At the time of the case, he had worked for the authority for 17 years, dealing mainly with cases of child abuse. In the 1980s, his workload gradually increased to such an extent that in 1986 he suffered a nervous breakdown. This was diagnosed by his GP who recommended time off work to recover.
On his return to work, Walker discussed his situation with his employers and told them that, for him to function normally, his caseload/workload needed to be reduced. He was promised extra resources to help.
Initially, he was given an assistant, but this apparently did not help to any great degree, as he suffered a second breakdown six months later. This resulted in his being dismissed on the grounds of permanent ill health - which probably added to his stress levels.
As a result of this dismissal following the second nervous breakdown, Walker claimed compensation from his employer, claiming that they were in breach of their common-law duty of care to provide a safe working environment.
He was successful in his claim on the grounds that his employer had been made aware that he was under extreme pressure at work, witness the initial nervous breakdown.
Smith v Crossley Bros (1951) Current Law Year Book (1947-51) 6831
The plaintiff, an apprentice employed in the defendants' apprentice training school, was seriously injured by a practical joke played upon him by two fellow-apprentices. The Court of Appeal held the defendants not liable to the plaintiff in negligence, because his injury had occurred through an act of wilful misbehaviour which the defendants could not reasonably have foreseen.
Waters v MPC (2000) 27 July 2000
From the speech of Lord Slynn:
The plaintiff was a