*Rhodes v OPO (by his litigation friend) and another

Tort – Cause of action. A famous concert pianist, author and television film-maker (J) sought to publish a book about his life, which included details of the abuse he had suffered as a child. His ex-wife sought to prevent the release of the book on the ground that it would cause their young son psychological harm. A High Court judge dismissed an application on behalf of the child for an interim injunction. The Court of Appeal, Civil Division, held that the claim alleging that the release of the book would constitute the tort of intentionally causing harm to the son should go for trial (Wilkinson v Downton [1895-9] All ER Rep 267) and it granted an interim injunction restricting its publication in a certain form. The Supreme Court, allowing J's appeal, considered the proper approach to the tort of intentionally causing physical or psychological harm in modern law and held that the publication of the book was not within the scope of the conduct element of the tort of wilful infringement of the right to personal safety. There was no basis for supposing that J had had an actual intention to cause psychiatric harm or severe mental or emotional distress to his son. Taking all factors into account, the only proper conclusion was that there was every justification for the publication.

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