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Supreme Court expedites key case on liability of social services authorities

The Supreme Court has expedited the hearing of a key case over the liability of social services authorities.

The case of CN v Poole Borough Council and Others will be heard on 16 and 17 July 2018. The panel gave a time estimate of 1.5 days. 

The case against Poole involves allegations that the claimants, CN and GN, had suffered personal injury and other losses as a result of Poole’s failure to take appropriate and necessary steps to re-house them or otherwise safeguard them from prolonged anti-social behaviour. CN suffers from severe physical and learning disability.

The claims were struck out in full by Master Eastman in October 2015 but reinstated by Mrs Justice Slade in relation to the council’s social services functions after a hearing in February 2016. Poole then successfully appealed this judgment to the Court of Appeal.

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For the full background to the case and the Court of Appeal judgment, read The Court of Appeal decision in CN v Poole Borough Council by Paul Stagg of 1 Chancery Lane and Robert Hams of Wansbroughs Solicitors. (Together with Lord Faulks QC of 1 Chancery Lane, they were instructed by Zurich Municipal to act on behalf of the council)

1 Crown Office Row, which has a number of barristers involved in the case, said it raised four important issues relating to the liability of social services to protect children from harm:

  1. Whether the decision in D v East Berkshire Community NHS Trust is correct.
  2. Whether the Court of Appeal was wrong to find that D v East Berkshire has been “impliedly overruled” and is inconsistent with the House of Lords authority of Mitchell v Glasgow City Council and of the Supreme Court authority of Michael v Chief Constable of South Wales.
  3.  Whether it was wrong for the Court of Appeal to find this case fell within the third class of case recognised by the Court of Appeal in Young v Bristol Aeroplane Co Ltd.
  4. Whether for the purposes of a strike out application it is appropriate to determine the facts against the Petitioners when there was expert evidence in support of the contention that their mother was unable to protect them from serious harm and they needed to be removed, at least temporarily, from home to prevent serious injury.

The appellants are represented by Lizanne Gumbel QC leading Iain O’Donnell and Duncan Fairgrieve of 1 Crown Office Row, instructed by Leigh Day, and the AIRE CENTRE have instructed Philip Havers QC and Hannah Noyce of 1 Crown Office Row as intervenors.

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