New Judgment: A v Essex County Council  UKSC 33
14 Wednesday Jul 2010
On appeal from:  EWCA Civ 364
The claimant’s case was that he was shut out of the state education system for 18 months, and that this was breach of his right under art 2 of the First Protocol to the ECHR to education. He appealed the decision to strike out his case. The case centred on whether a local education authority has a minimum legal obligation to provide all children with an effective education, taking account of their special needs and regardless of the demands that this has on resources. Held: Lords Clarke, Phillips and Brown held that art 2 of the First Protocol did not give the claimant an absolute right to education that met his special needs. The signatories to the Protocol did not commit themselves to establishing educational facilities that did not exist in their countries. It was not right to equate a failure to provide the educational facilities required by domestic law with a denial of access to education under the Convention. The reason why the claimant was, for 18 months, denied special schooling that he required was that there was not immediately available the resources required to carry out the medical assessment that he needed nor, thereafter, a place in a school that would satisfy his needs. Lord Phillips, Kerr and Lady Hale held that the claimant might have been able to establish a breach of the Convention in the form of a failure to provide educational facilities that were available, that would have mitigated the consequences of the failure to meet his special needs. However a majority held that it would not be right to extend the one year time limit to enable him to bring his claim.