Case details

Alves (Appellant) v Attorney General of the Virgin Islands (Respondent) (British Virgin Islands)

Case ID: JCPC 2015/0101

Jurisdiction: The Court of Appeal of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (British Virgin Islands)

Case summary


Whether the claimant’s claim was statute barred by reason of the provisions of the Public Authorities Protection Act s.2, in that the negligence by the Government causing the injury to the claimant occurred in the direct discharge of its public duty or direct exercise of its authority to provide hospital services under the Public Hospital Act.

Whether there is a private duty owed by the State to a Government employee which is separate from the public duties being performed by the State.


The appellant is a registered nurse who was employed by the Government of the Virgin Islands. At the material time, the appellant was assigned to work at Peebles Hospital, a public hospital managed by a statutory board appointed under the Public Hospital Act. On 9th April 2003, in the course of her employment, the appellant injured her back. This occurred when the appellant was attending to an elderly patient with Alzheimer’s disease whose bed was collapsing under him. The Government of the Virgin Islands initially met the appellant’s medical expenses, but ceased doing so in May 2006. The appellant commenced proceedings against the Government of the Virgin Islands on 27th December 2007, seeking damages for negligence on the grounds that her injury was caused by the failure of the Government as her employer to take reasonable care for her safety. The only defence raised by the respondent was one of limitation based on the provisions of s.2 of the Public Authorities Protection Act, as the claim was filed more than 6 months after the neglect or failure of the Crown, among other things, to provide and maintain a proper plant and equipment at the Peebles Hospital, and the resultant injury to the appellant.



Daphine Alves


The Attorney General of the Virgin Islands



Lord Neuberger, Lord Kerr, Lord Carnwath, Lord Hughes, Lord Hodge

Hearing start date

02 May 2017

Hearing finish date

02 May 2017

Watch hearing
02 May 2017 Morning session Afternoon session