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Liability for psychological injury caused by a criminal act

On 17 February 2017, the New South Wales Court of Appeal delivered its decision in Optus Administration Pty Limited v Glenn Wright by his tutor James Stuart Wright [2017] NSWCA 21.

The decision examined the application of section 32 (Mental harm-duty of care) of the Civil Liability Act 2002 and the circumstances in which an occupier of premises might be held liable for psychological injury caused by the criminal act of an entrant to the premises. Both the plaintiff and the assailant were hired by the defendant occupier, Optus. It was argued that Optus owed no duty to the plaintiff except that owed by an occupier to a lawful entrant, and that it should escape a finding of liability on the basis of the general principle applied in Modbury that an occupier is not liable for injury to lawful entrants caused by the criminal acts of third parties on the occupier’s land.

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