Disclaimer: This work was produced by one of our expert legal writers, as a learning aid to help law students with their studies.

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not reflect the views of LawTeacher.net. Any information contained in this case summary does not constitute legal advice and should be treated as educational content only.

McFarlane v EE Caledonia Ltd

305 words (1 pages) Case Summary

18th Jul 2019 Case Summary Reference this In-house law team

Jurisdiction / Tag(s): UK Law

McFarlane v EE Caledonia Ltd [1995] 2 All ER 1



The claimant (C) was on board a vessel which was called upon to attend to the serious fire that had broken out on the oil rig “Piper Alpha”, which was owned and operated by the defendant (D). The fire caused significant loss of life and a number of very serious injuries, although none were witnessed directly by C as he assisted in providing fire-fighting and rescue services, as his boat was too far from the scene. As a result of his experiences C suffered psychiatric injury, subsequently bringing an action in negligence against D.


The principal issue on appeal was whether D owed a duty of care to C. It was assumed at first instance that a duty was owed to those workers on the rig to exercise reasonable care in preventing injury or death, and that breach of this duty had caused C to suffer psychiatric damage. Counsel for D argued, however, that this did not resolve the question of whether D owed a duty of care to C himself, as a later participant the event, as it was not foreseeable that a person in C’s circumstances would suffer psychiatric harm as a result of D’s breach of duty to its workers.


Finding in favour of D, the Court of Appeal held that no duty of care was owed by D with respect to see. At no point was D in physical danger, nor did he reasonably believe this was so, and he did not participate as a rescuer; he could not, therefore, be a primary victim. Moreover, C did not meet the criteria to be considered as a secondary victim, thus D could not be liable for the harm he suffered.

Cite This Work

To export a reference to this article please select a referencing stye below:

Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.

Related Services

View all

Related Content

Jurisdictions / Tags

Content relating to: "UK Law"

UK law covers the laws and legislation of England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland. Essays, case summaries, problem questions and dissertations here are relevant to law students from the United Kingdom and Great Britain, as well as students wishing to learn more about the UK legal system from overseas.

Related Articles