The court has ordered Lancashire County Council to pay legal costs in a landmark case in which our clients were found to have had their human rights breached. In the original case, details of which can be viewed here, Lancashire County Council were found liable for the ‘degrading treatment’ suffered by two brothers (A and S) whilst in their care. The brothers, one of whom had 96 placements and the other 77 during 13 years of fostering, were found to have had their human rights breached under 4 separate articles.
In the current case relating to the costs order, reported as A and S (Children) v Lancashire County Council [ EWHC 851 (Fam), the judge, Mr Justice Peter Jackson, commented:
“In this case [Lancashire County Council’s] conduct in relation to these boys over many years was blatantly unlawful and unreasonable (as both it and the IRO have accepted) and led inexorably to substantial litigation. The extensive period of the default meant that the amount of material to be analysed was itself extensive, and the time necessary to analyse it was correspondingly long. LCC having handed over its archive, it fell to those representing the boys to make sense of it, with little if any original insight coming from LCC itself, as opposed to from the IRO.”
The amount of material referenced in Mr Jackson’s ruling amounted to, in his own words, a ‘staggering 19,000 pages of social work records’.
Commenting on the ruling, Antonia Love, the boys’ solicitor said:
“I am delighted that Mr Justice Peter Jackson had no hesitation in finding Lancashire County Council’s conduct in respect of these two boys was unreasonable and to that extent ordered them to pay the boys’ costs. Having held the Local Authority’s behaviour to be “sub-standard” there could be no other fair outcome for the boys than to oblige Lancashire County Council to pay their costs”.