201604.04

Council Sued for ‘Failing to Protect Children’ on Tough Estate

FlatsIn an important decision, the High Court has opened the way for two young people, who claim that their childhoods on a tough council estate were blighted by anti-social behaviour and harassment, to sue a local authority for substantial damages.

The boys, one of whom was seriously disabled, lived on the estate with their mother, a tenant of the council. Their lawyers argued that the council negligently failed to protect them from the constant malign attention of a delinquent family which also lived there. One of the boys had attempted suicide and both of them were said to have suffered physical and psychiatric harm.

It was submitted that the council should have relieved the boys’ suffering by finding them an alternative home, away from the estate, or even taking them into care. However, their damages claims were struck out by a court official on the basis that the council owed them no common law duty of care.

In reversing that decision and paving the way for a full trial of the action, the Court ruled that the boys’ legal team should have the opportunity to prove that their injuries were a foreseeable result of the mistreatment they endured and that it would be fair, just and reasonable to hold the council liable to compensate them.

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