Police officers: duty of care owed by State

State of New South Wales v Briggs [2016] NSWCA 344

1. Per curiam: In relation to the numerically large body of police officers, breach of a duty of care must be assessed in light of a postulated system that should have been devised, or a general instruction which should have been given, and which would probably have prevented the psychological injury: at [8], [31], [64]-[68], [96], [138]-[139], [151]-[153].

New South Wales v Fahy (2007) 232 CLR 486; [2007] HCA 20, applied

S v State of New South Wales [2009] NSWCA 164, considered

2. By Leeming JA, Ward JA agreeing: When considering the relationship between the parties, the scope or content of the duty of care must be moulded having regard to statutes which apply peculiarly to the NSW Police Force: at [31], [46]-[49], [61]-[62], [64], [186]-[188].

Koehler v Cerebos (Australia) Ltd (2005) 222 CLR 44; [2005] HCA 15; Sullivan v Moody (2001) 207 CLR 562; [2001] HCA 59; New South Wales v Fahy (2007) 232 CLR 486; [2007] HCA 20; Hunter and New England Local Health District v McKenna (2014) 253 CLR 270; [2014] HCA 44, applied

3. A defendant is not negligent merely by failing to take a course of conduct which would have eliminated the risk of harm. Unless it be shown that the defendant was acting unreasonably in failing to take that course, negligence is not established: at [31], [166].

Dovuro Pty Ltd v Wilkins (2003) 215 CLR 317; [2003] HCA 51; Shoalhaven City Council v Pender [2013] NSWCA 210; applied

4. The scope of a duty of care must be formulated prospectively, not by engaging in a “hindsight” analysis of whether the risk of injury could have been reduced or eliminated: at [31], [64]-[71], [140]-[141], [151]-[153], [170].

Vairy v Wyong Shire Council (2005) 223 CLR 422; New South Wales v Fahy (2007) 232 CLR 486; [2007] HCA 20; Kuhl v Zurich Financial Services Australia Ltd (2011) 243 CLR 361; [2011] HCA 11; Badenach v Calbert [2016] HCA 18; 90 ALJR 610; Nationwide News Pty Ltd v Naidu (2007) 71 NSWLR 471; [2007] NSWCA 377; Hoffmann v Boland [2013] NSWCA 158; [2013] Aust Torts Reports 82-134; Schultz v McCormack [2015] NSWCA 330, applied

5. Consideration of the assessment of breach and duty in cases of undiagnosed psychiatric injury and the role of courts: at [10]-[30] (McColl JA) and [117]-[131], [225]-[227] (Leeming JA).

New South Wales v Fahy (2007) 232 CLR 486; [2007] HCA 20; Hegarty v Queensland Ambulance Service [2007] QCA 366; [2007] Aust Torts Reports 81‑919; Woolworths Ltd v Perrins [2015] QCA 207; Barber v Somerset County Council [2004] UKHL 13; [2004] 1 WLR 1089, Benic v State of New South Wales [2010] NSWSC 1039; Box Hill Institute of TAFE v Johnson [2015] VSCA 245, considered and applied

6. Consideration of the nature of (a) the service of a police officer in the NSW Police Force, and (b) the liability of the State: at [50]-[61] (Leeming JA).

Enever v The King (1906) 3 CLR 969; Commonwealth v Quince (1944) 68 CLR 227; Little v Commonwealth (1947) 75 CLR 94; Attorney‑General for New South Wales v Perpetual Trustee Company (Ltd) (1952) 85 CLR 237; Attorney‑General for New South Wales v Perpetual Trustee Company (Ltd) (1955) 92 CLR 113; Oceanic Crest Shipping Co v Pilbara Harbour Services Pty Ltd (1986) 160 CLR 626; Police Service (NSW) v Honeysett (2001) 53 NSWLR 592; [2001] NSWCA 452; Commissioner of Police v Estate of Russell (2002) 55 NSWLR 232; [2002] NSWCA 272; Sheikh v Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police [1990] 1 QB 637; J Carabetta, “Employment Status of the Police in Australia” (2003) 27(1) Melbourne University Law Review 1, considered