Various Claimants – v – (1) Bryn Alyn Community (Holdings) Limited (2) Royal and Sun Alliance Plc (2001) High Court before Connell J
14 Claimants brought proceedings against the Defendant in negligence after suffering sexual, physical and emotional abuse whilst resident within the Bryn Alyn Community. The Court found that the Defendant had breached its direct duty of care to the Claimants to take all reasonable steps to provide a safe home for them during their residency within the Community; in that, the system of care operated by Bryn Alyn was inadequate, not properly organised and not properly supervised. The Court found the claims to be statute barred but exercised its discretion under s.33 Limitation Act 1980 to allow the claims to proceed. The Court held that to deprive the Claimants of a remedy would be prejudicial and unjust and that the delay in bringing proceedings was an entirely understandable lack of confidence or ability on the part of the Claimants to talk to others at an earlier stage with regard to their unhappy and embarrassing experiences within the Bryn Alyn Community.
The Court, following the House of Lords decision in Lister – v – Hesley Hall(2001), held that Bryn Alyn was vicariously liable for the conduct of those employees who had abused the Claimants and that Bryn Alyn could not escape liability by claiming that the employees who abused children were acting outside the scope of their employment.
The Court awarded the successful Claimants damages for pain, suffering and loss of amenity and some Claimants recovered for a loss of earnings and the cost of psychotherapy.
Various Claimants - v – (1) Bryn Alyn Community (Holdings) Limited (2) Royal and Sun Alliance (2003) Court of Appeal before Auld LJ, Waller LJ and Mantell LJ.
The Court of Appeal found that the Claimants should be entitled to proceed under s.14 of the Limitation Act 1980. Furthermore, the Claimants appeals for increased awards were successful and the Court of Appeal substituted the awards of Connell J for higher awards. Of particular import was that the Court of Appeal ruled that the Claimants should be compensated for the entirety of their required costs of medical treatment, even if, part of the injury for which the treatment related was caused by another source.
Whilst the Claimants in the above Bryn Alyn claims were successful in establishing liability and overcoming the limitation defence put forward by the Defendants. Bryn Alyn Community (Holdings) Limited, however, was a company in administrative receivership without sufficient assets to satisfy the damages judgements. Accordingly, enforcement proceedings were brought against the Public Liability Insurers for the material times; this has been heard by the High Court in 2006 and the Court of Appeal in 2006; there is a possibility that this case may reach the House of Lords.