On appeal from: [2017] EWCA Civ 2185

This appeal considered whether the case of D v East Berkshire Community NHS Trust [2004] QB 558 is correct and should continue to govern the position of local authorities in respect of their duties to children living in their areas.

The Supreme Court unanimously dismissed the appeal. The Court held that the claimants’ particulars of claim did not disclose any recognisable basis for a cause of action. The question raised was whether local authorities may be liable for breach of a common law duty of care in relation to the performance of their functions under the Children Act 1989. The Court considered that the council’s conduct in investigating and monitoring the claimants’ position did not involve the provision of a service to them on which they or their mother could be expected to rely. As it could not be said that the claimants and their mother had entrusted their safety to the council or that the council had taken the claimants into its care, thereby assuming responsibility for their welfare, the council did not assume a responsibility towards them. The Court concluded that the harm suffered by the claimants was attributable to the conduct of the neighbouring family, rather than a lack of reasonable parental care, and as such there were simply no grounds for removing the children from their mother. Therefore the case should not proceed to trial.

For judgment, please download: [2019] UKSC 25
For Court’s Press Summary, please download: Court’s Press Summary
For a non-PDF version of the judgment, please visit: BAILII

To watch the hearing, please visit: Supreme Court Website (16 Jul 2018 morning session) (16 Jul 2018 afternoon session) (17 Jul 2018 morning session)