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Christine Robertson (AP) v. The Scottish Ministers [2007] CSOH 186


Reparation - Debate:- In this action the pursuer sought damages in respect of alleged bullying and harassment at her work between early 2000 and late 2001. During that period the pursuer was employed as a prison guard by the Scottish Prison Service and her claim comprised solatium for anxiety, distress and psychiatric illness, together with a continuing loss of earnings in the period after she was medically signed off work from 31 October 2001. The pursuers case was based on: (1) a complaint against her employers at common law, alleging that in various ways they failed to take reasonable care for her welfare; (2) she sought to have her employers held vicariously liable for the intentionally harmful conduct of colleagues who she alleged bullied her; and (3) an action of harassment under section 8 of the Protection from Harassment Act 1997. At debate the defenders invited the court to dismiss the action as irrelevant and lacking in specification, and also as time-barred by virtue of sections 17 and 18B of the Prescription and Limitation (Scotland) Act 1973. In relation to prescription the summons was served on 9 September 2004. Under sections 17 and 18B of the Prescription and Limitation (Scotland) Act 1973, the primary date for the commencement of the triennium was the date when continuing acts or omissions, or alleged harassment under the 1997 Act, ceased. Here the last of the alleged conduct capable of amounting to bullying and harassment occurred in May 2001. It was submitted on behalf of the defenders that the triennium had expired four months prior to the raising of the action. Here the court considered whether the pursuer had put forward sufficient averments in justification of the court's discretion being exercised in the pursuer's favour.