Various Claimants – v – Flintshire County Council (The former Clwyd County Council) North Wales Children’s Homes Litigation (2000) before Scott Baker J.
This claim involved 11 Claimants who brought proceedings against the Local Authority in respect of abuse and maltreatment in Children’s Homes in North Wales.
The Court held that the Local Authority owed a direct duty of each of the Claimants whom it had been in loco parentis too and the duty was to take all reasonable steps to provide a safe home for them. The test for the breach of this duty was whether the perpetrator of the abuse would have committed the abuse if supervised to the relevant standard. The relevant standard of supervision had to be judged against the awareness of the risk of abuse at the time.
Effective supervision was necessary to ensure that the homes were reasonably safe but had not been provided. This effective supervision would have made it a much greater risk for senior management to abuse and would have probably resulted in the abuse being discovered.
Each of the claims was assessed on its own merits and compensation was individually assessed in respect of each Claimant. Compensation was assessed in all 11 of the claims. Awards related to (1) the damage caused by the Defendants breach of duty i.e. had the abuse made a material contribution to the particular Claimant’s condition assessed on the ordinary civil standard (2) loss of earnings where the Claimant would need to persuade the court that it was more likely than not that he had earned less since the abuse than he would have earned if he had not been abused.
C – v- Flintshire County Council (Formerly Clwyd County Council (2001) Court of Appeal before Henry LJ, Ward LJ and Buxton LJ
Flintshire County Council appealed against the quantification of damages assessed by Scott-Baker J in Various Claimants – v – Flintshire County Council (formerly Clwyd County Council) made on 26th July 2000.
Prior to her admission into care C was subjected to physical and emotional abuse from her parents; she was also bullied at school. She was placed in a Local Authority home where she experienced five months of bullying from other residents without staff intervention. After a short spell at home she was returned to the care of the Local Authority again and was subjected to physical, emotional and sexual abuse perpetrated against her by members of staff at a Local Authority Children’s Home. Following this period C was placed with foster parents and had a succession of temporary jobs, however, C had developed a serious drink problem and was damaged and vulnerable. C became involved with drugs and by the time she had reached her 20’s was without work, taking and supplying drugs. C suffered with panic attacks and self-destructive behaviour.
C was awarded £35,000 for pain, suffering and loss of amenity; £20,000 for loss of past earnings; £5,000 for future loss of earnings and £10,000 for the costs of psychotherapy; this made a total award of £70,000.
The Local Authority, in their appeal, did not contest the issue of liability but argued that the damages figure was too high.
The Court of Appeal stated that the JSB guidelines did not apply in cases of this nature. The sexual, physical and emotional abuse of children fell into a wholly different category. The Judge had been correct to take a broad-brush approach and find as he did. The Court of Appeal stated that the Judge’s finding as to quantum could not be criticised.