Women and Justice: Keywords

Domestic Case Law

Susan Couch v. Attorney-General (2008)

Gender-based violence in general

The plaintiff, Ms. Couch, was seriously injured when William Bell robbed her place of employment. William Bell was a parolee under the supervision of the Probation Service. Ms. Couch claimed that the Probation Service failed to exercise reasonable care in the supervision of William Bell, leading to her injuries. The Court of Appeals dismissed her claim on the basis that the Probation Service owed no duty of care to her. The Supreme Court unanimously reversed, holding that the Probation Service owes a duty of care to victims of criminal assault by parolees under its supervision. In doing so, the Supreme Court expressly rejected a so-called “sufficient proximity” rule, stating that the Probation Service owes a duty of care only to plaintiffs who are members of an identifiable class that is at particular risk of harm by parolees. The Supreme Court also held that the Probation Service is not vicariously liable for the actions of its parolees.