If you feel that your life has been blighted by a local authority’s failure to protect you during your childhood, you should consult a lawyer straight away. In a case on point, a young man who should have been removed from his mother’s care and placed for adoption as a baby won the right to compensation.
A local authority had been concerned about the behaviour of the man’s mother even before his birth. He exhibited behavioural problems as he grew up and a strategy meeting and a child protection conference were held. He was not, however, placed on the child protection register. Only when he was seven years old did the council obtain a care order on the basis that he was suffering, or was likely to suffer, significant harm in his mother’s care.
After proceedings were launched on his behalf, the council swiftly admitted liability on the basis that it had breached the duty it owed him as a vulnerable child. It also conceded that, but for that breach, he would have been taken from his mother’s care and placed for adoption in the first month of his life.
Seven years after those formal admissions were made, however, the council sought judicial permission to withdraw them. It asserted that a recent sea change in the law, arising from a Supreme Court ruling, had rendered the man’s claim untenable. Following two hearings, permission was refused by a judge.
Dismissing the council’s challenge to that ruling, the Court of Appeal found that it would not be just, fair or appropriate to permit it to go back on admissions that were made so long ago. Such a course would cause obvious prejudice to the man, whose lawyers had for years proceeded on a non-adversarial basis on the assumption that the council had irrevocably conceded liability. The Court’s ruling meant that the man would in due course receive appropriate compensation.