On 10 December 2018 the Queens Bench Division of the High Court approved settlement in the case of A and S v LCC. The Approval Hearing took place on the day before a five day Trial was due to commence and resulted in a combined payment to the Claimants from the Local Authority of £9.6 million. This eclipses the highest previous award in a claim of this nature.
A and S are brothers born in 1995 and 1997. They were received into the care of the Defendant on 23 February 1998 with Care Orders being made later that year.
The plan was for the Claimants to be adopted. This never happened. The Claimants instead became “statutory orphans”.
On 21 June 2012 the matter came before Mr Justice Jackson who described in some detail the chaotic upbringing these two boys had endured. He describes A as having suffered some 77 different placement moves within his 16 years of life. He describes S as suffering no fewer than 96 placement moves in his 14 years of life. During some of the placements the Claimants suffered neglect and abuse. The Guardian in the Family Proceedings described A and S as profoundly damaged by their particular childhood journey through the care system. Mr Justice Jackson made various declarations under Articles 8, 6 and 3 of the Human Rights Act and from 2012 onwards we have been working with Counsel specialising in this area of work to quantify damages claims on behalf of A and S.
The matter was transferred to the QBD and the parties were complimented on the collaborative approach to the litigation and settlement negotiations.
Various experts were instructed on a joint basis to include Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, Adult Psychiatrist and Care Expert. Evidence was also obtained from an Educational Psychologist and Court of Protection Expert.
Liability was resolved at an early stage with the Local Authority offering apologies to A and S both at the conclusion of the Family Proceedings and at the Approval Hearing of the civil damages claim. Four separate Joint Settlement Meetings took place before an offer of £9.6million jointly to the Claimants was put forward which was deemed acceptable by the Litigation Friend who in this case was the Official Solicitor and which was thereafter approved by the Queens Bench Division.
Damages included awards for loss of earnings (past and future), care and Court of Protection fees.
The size of the award reflects the significant damage that was done to A and S by the Local Authority’s failings during their childhood. The previous highest award in a damages claim against a Local Authority was another case dealt with by the same legal team when an award of £1million was made for failings which resulted in a Claimant suffering severe physical and sexual abuse during childhood. The award to A and S is almost ten times this previous case. The same legal team dealt with both cases as follows:
Lizanne Gumbel QC, Senior Counsel
Justin Levinson, Junior Counsel