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Nothing to fear: Kimathi & Ors v The Foreign and Commonwealth Office [2018] EWHC 1305 (QB) - Peter Wake, Weightmans LLP

12/07/18. In a useful decision on what does or does not constitute ‘personal injury’, the High Court has confirmed that fear alone is not a recognised personal injury and therefore it could not ground a claim in which the court had any discretion to extend the three-year limitation period, as prescribed by the Limitation Act 1980.

The claimants in this group action are part of the Kenyan Emergency Group Litigation who are seeking damages for alleged abuses which they suffered during the Kenyan Emergency in the 1950s. It is alleged that they were subjected to threats which caused them fear but no actual bodily harm. The claimants have argued that those threats forced them to remain in detention centres and villages and to carry out hard labour. Their claims have been brought in both negligence and trespass to the person.

The crux of this particular issue in the litigation was that if fear alone did in fact constitute personal injury then the limitation period in both causes of action would be three years, but, crucially, the court would have discretion to extend that limitation period under section 33 of the Limitation Act.

Giving the court’s judgment, Mr. Justice Stewart had no...

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