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Are failure to take into care claims now in doubt?

“Failure to take into care” claims are brought by children against social services. The claim is based on the local authority’s failure to remove them from danger, which might come from their own parents or possibly someone else.

Last week, the UK Supreme Court gave its decision in CN and GN v Poole Borough Council [2019] UKSC 25.

The Claimants were two children (one of whom was severely disabled) who alleged that the Defendant local authority had negligently failed to take the necessary steps to safeguard them. They and their mother were the target of prolonged abuse perpetrated by members of a neighbouring family between 2006 and 2011.

The Court of Appeal in CN & GN v Poole Borough Council [2017] EWCA Civ 2185 decided that the local authority owed them no duty of care in these circumstances and they appealed to the UK Supreme Court.

Regrettably their appeal was lost. The Supreme Court said that they had to show that the local authority had made an “assumption of responsibility” towards them before they could make a claim. This was despite the fact that the local authority was well aware of their plight, and later apologised for not doing enough to protect them.

So what does this mean for failure to take into care claims?

Regrettably it may mean that such claims become very difficult indeed. The decision does not appear to apply to children who are already in care, when mistakes are made by social services.

Regardless of this decision, a child may have:

1) a claim to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority

2) a complaint to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman

3) a human rights claim

To find out more whether you can make a claim against social services, speak to our experts, Malcolm Johnson mj@hudgellsolicitors.co.uk or Steve Walster sdw@hudgellsolicitors.co.uk or Michelle Nurse mn@hudgellsolicitors.co.uk.

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