COURT OF APPEAL (CIVIL DIVISION)
ON APPEAL FROM BIRMINGHAM COUNTY COURT
Strand, London, WC2A 2LL
B e f o r e :
LORD JUSTICE MAURICE KAY
LORD JUSTICE STANLEY BURNTON
| Mazhar Hussain
|- and -
|The Chief Constable of West Mercia Constabulary
Andrew Waters (instructed by Dolmans) for the Respondent
Hearing dates : 15 October 2008
Crown Copyright ©
Lord Justice Stanley Burnton:
"By reason of the matters aforesaid, the Claimant has suffered loss, damage, distress and anxiety and damage to his reputation and he was deprived of his liberty.
The Claimant who was born on 28 December 1969 has been caused to suffer stress related symptoms by reason of the actions of the Defendant as set out above. These stress related symptoms have had significant effect upon the Claimant in his everyday life. Full particulars are set out in the Report and Addendum from the consultant Psychiatrist Dr David Gill dated 14 September 2007 which are attached hereto.
Loss of liberty on 13th July 2002 – 4 hours and 38 minutes
Loss of liberty on 12th April 2006 – duration to be inserted."
"He summarised the problem as he sees it, 'The police are targeting me all the time. I have seen other incidents with other drivers where they behave different. In the past they have threatened me. Now I am worried that they can make up any story and get me in serious trouble.'"
The report also describes one of the incidents, which took place in 2002, alleged to constitute false imprisonment. The Appellant is recorded as having described his symptoms as follows:
"It is affecting me. Before I had a very smooth life, I love my children, but now the children make me irritable, I am less tolerant, I get angry all the time.
I used to have back pain but it disappeared about eighteen months ago. But now my left arm and leg go numb under stress, if I worry, if I have a hard day, but apart from that I haven't had any other problems with my health."
"He said that he is affected by the numbness of the left arm and leg under stress but that he has no other current health problems."
"… Mr Hussain has described many incidents which one presumes are the lot of the taxi driver where the customer, for example, tries to run off without paying. However, Mr Hussain feels that he has not been fairly treated by the police when he has sought to report such matters to them.
Mr Hussain has naturally found all this worrying over an extended period of time and he experiences this as feelings of discomfort and numbness in his left leg and upper limb.
On mental state examination this gentleman appeared in good overall health. It is clear that he is a man of vigorous temperament with a strong sense of justice.
There is no evidence that he has a psychotic illness. It is not the case therefore that the perceived wrong treatment by the police can be explained by the patient being subject to delusions of persecution.
There was at interview no sign of diagnosable level of depression or anxiety, though it is clear that the gentleman has given a good description of stress-related symptoms experienced as irrationality, mood changes, and somatised physical symptoms of anxiety such as numbness and discomfort in the left arm and left leg.
This gentleman does not have a current psychiatric diagnosis.
He does however, experience significant anxiety symptoms at stressful times, which he experiences, as is very common, as irritability and physical discomfort, probably deriving from perceived muscular tension in the left arm and leg."
"These symptoms appear due to the effects of the perceived problems in relations with the constabulary."
Dr Gill did not explain what he meant by "appear due", or why the symptoms were ascribed to those problems rather than the general lot of taxi drivers referred to earlier in the report. Dr Gill advised Mr Hussain to consult his GP, and said:
"Generally speaking, there would be concern as regards the prognosis. If the current perceived problems go unresolved then the symptoms could well get worse and the patient become clinically diagnosable with a mental illness such as an anxiety disorder or a depressive disorder.
This could entail adverse consequences on his ability to work, with obvious financial implications fro himself, his business, and his ability to provide for his wife and children."
"I consider [Mr Hussain] does have stress related symptoms, but do not consider that they amount to a diagnosable condition such as an adjustment disorder.
The symptoms do appear to be caused by Mr Hussain's perceived problems in relation to the Constabulary."
The contentions of the parties
"The common law gives no damages for the emotional distress which any normal person experiences when someone he loves is killed or injured. Anxiety and depression are normal human emotions. Yet an anxiety neurosis or a reactive depression may be recognisable psychiatric illnesses, with or without psychosomatic symptoms. So, the first hurdle which a plaintiff claiming damages of the kind in question must surmount is to establish that he is suffering, not merely grief, distress or any other normal emotion, but a positive psychiatric illness."
"I would accordingly rule that the tort of misfeasance in public office is never actionable without proof of material damage as I have defined it."
He had defined material damage at :
"There was no challenge to the judge's findings of bad faith against the three officers, nor to his finding that their conduct had caused the respondent no financial loss or physical or mental injury, which in argument was helpfully described as "material damage", an expression understood to include recognised psychiatric illness but not distress, injured feelings, indignation or annoyance."
Lord Justice Maurice Kay :
The Master of the Rolls: