Jonathan Bridge-200The abuse claims solicitors at Farleys have recently settled a claim which is believed to be the biggest ever award against a Council for their negligence and breach of duty in failing to remove a child who was at risk of harm.

Claimant J was born to a mother with a learning disability who had herself been sexually abused. The Local council removed Claimant J from her mother’s care and placed her with other family members who the Claimant alleged were entirely inappropriate. The Claimant remained with these family members until the age of sixteen when she was made the subject of an Emergency Protection Order.

Her entire childhood was therefore effected by the care provided and it became clear that she had suffered significant physical and emotional abuse, with allegations also being raised of sexual abuse.

The Claimant contended that the initial placement was inappropriate and that thereafter there were innumerable opportunities for Social Services to intervene and remove her to protect her and prevent the ongoing abuse and neglect. The Council eventually admitted that they had been negligent but there was a considerable difference between the date on which they accepted the Claimant should have been removed and the Claimant’s contention such that removal should have taken place at birth. Liability was therefore an issue.

Valuation of the claim also presented significant challenges. The Claimant suffered from a mild learning disability. This presented problems in establishing if the Claimant’s earning ability had been affected by the abuse. There were also complications caused by the Defendant’s suggestion that the Claimant suffered unrelated childhood trauma and birth injury and that the Claimant would have suffered some degree of psychiatric injury regardless of the Defendant’s negligence prior to the date on which they accepted that they should have removed the Claimant.

This was therefore an extremely challenging case both in relation to liability and quantum.

The claim was ongoing for over eight years. Proceedings were issued and a Defence filed. Numerous medical reports were obtained from psychiatrists and neuropsychologists. Two joint settlement meetings took place before the claim was eventually compromised in the sum of £640,000 and approved by the Court.

This is believed to be the largest ever award for the victim of a Council’s negligence in failing to remove a child from an abusive situation.

Commenting on the case, Jonathan Bridge, Head of Abuse Claims at Farleys, said:

“It was evident from my first meeting with the client that she had suffered immeasurable damage from her childhood experiences. These cases are always terribly sad, especially where action could have been taken to prevent such prolonged periods of abuse and neglect.

“I am pleased that now the client has at least had some form of redress against the Local Authority who let her down so badly”.

Farleys Solicitors has a department that specialises in abuse compensation claims where the victims have been let down by Social Services and Local Authorities. For more information, please contact us.