From: Hugh Cumber <>
Date: 30/11/2015 09:52:02 UTC
Subject: English High Court awards substantial damages for Wilkinson v Downton tort over sexting

Dear Colleagues


The High Court today handed down a judgment on a potentially novel application of the tort in Wilkinson v Downton/ Rhodes v OPO in the context of grooming/ sexual assault.


The claimant sued the Defendant, the operator of a special education needs school which she attended, on the basis that they were vicariously liable for the actions of the Part 20 Defendant, William Whillock, who had been a member of staff at the school.


Mr Whillock had befriended the claimant, encouraged her to send sexually explicit messages, and had sexually assaulted her. She brought a claim seeking damages for assault and under the tort in Wilkinson v Downton (which was put in the alternative, see [8]).


The court held, very briefly, at [89] that all of the elements of the claim as reformulated in Rhodes v OPO had been established. This included the intention to cause severe mental or emotional distress, on the basis that the “consequences or potential consequences are so obvious the perpetrator cannot realistically say that those consequences were unintended” (per Rhodes at [112]).


Best wishes



Hugh Cumber



Top ranked chambers





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