Damages for Harassment

Picture of Money

What’s the claim worth?

After the distractions of Colombia, normal service is resumed as promised with the provision of a guide to the assessment of damages under the Protection from Harassment Act. A new page, imaginatively called Harassment Damages, explains the approach and lists several reported cases which may serve as guides to the amounts which may be awarded.

The conventional approach is that damages for harassment  where there is no actual psychiatric injury should be approached in the same way as those awarded for injury to feelings in discrimination cases; an approach endorsed by the Court of Appeal in Martins v Choudhary.

For injury to feelings, 3 bands of award were identified by the Court of Appeal in Vento v Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police [2002] EWCA Civ 1871. Following an inflationary review in 2009 by the Employment Appeal Tribunal in Da’Bell v NSPCC UKEAT/0277/09/CEA awards range from £18,000 to £30,000 for the most serious cases, from £6,000 to £18,000 for serious cases, which do not merit an award in the highest band and from £600 to £6,000 for less serious cases, such as where an act of discrimination is an isolated or one off occurrence.

However, the point was made (in S&D Property Investments v Nisbet) that it would be wrong to apply precisely the same awards as discrimination necessarily involves an award for the humiliation of being treated differently on the grounds of a protected characteristic such as sex or race. In fact, it is striking that only one of the reported cases I have found involves an award of more than £10,000*.

In practice, as indeed the cases demonstrate, much will turn both on the nature of the harassment (e.g. whether it involved actual or threatened violence, direct personal confrontation such as visits and calls or was limited to letters), the duration of the course of conduct and, of course, the evidence of the target about the impact of the harassment.

*Meanwhile, celebs who court publicity for the benefit of their careers get between £40,000 and £100,000 for invasion of privacy. Go figure.

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Filed under Cases, Harassment

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