Client C got in touch with abuse law specialist Jonathan Bridge in 2016, in relation to a potential claim against the London Borough of Bromley, having suffered terrible treatment during her childhood and felt that she had been failed by the Social Services department of her Local Authority.
At the age of 8, she was groomed and sexually abused by her step-father. The abuse, which lasted for a number of years was serious, and included rape.
Our client’s behaviour inevitably deteriorated whilst the abuse was ongoing, to the point where she eventually had to be taken into care and was placed into the care of the Local Authority. She was placed in a care home and confided in a friend, revealing the sexual abuse that she had suffered. Her mother also told the Local Authority about her concerns in relation to the relationship between her daughter and step-father.
There were multiple failings on the part of the Local Authority on many levels. Not only did they allow continued contact with the abuser but they also failed our client in relation to her ongoing education following the abuse. She was repeatedly moved between care homes and there was no continuity, either in care or education, which significantly contributed to her problems. She also contended that she was put in inappropriate placements with abusive foster carers.
When she fell pregnant by her future husband, her son was removed from her care and eventually taken away and adopted. Our client maintained that if Social Services had supported her properly, she would still have had her son. She found Social Services to have been deliberately obstructive at every stage. Not only did they cause the problem by allowing continuing contact with the abuser, but the position was exacerbated by the subsequent lack of support for her and her situation.
Despite the obvious risk posed by her step-father, the Local Authority allowed him continued contact with Client C even when she was in their care. She stayed over at his flat (he had split from her mother by this point) and the abuse continued further for nearly a year.
There were also alleged failings on the part of the Local Authority once the abuse ended, in the care planning in relation to Client C.
How Farleys were able to overcome limitation and liability issues
This was a difficult case on many levels. The first problem, as is common in many similar cases, was limitation. Client C was a number of years out of time for bringing the claim and the Defendants had to be persuaded to allow the claim to continue “out of time”. The psychiatric impact of the abuse on Client C was good justification for her not coming forward sooner and there was sufficient corroboration of the abuse, particularly as it had been reported to the police.
The next difficulty was in relation to liability. During the course of the claim the Supreme Court handed down their Judgment in the case of CN v Poole Borough Council. This has given weight to Defendant’s arguments in relation to the extent to which a Local Authority owes a duty of care to a Claimant in Client C’s position and the impact of this case had to be carefully considered.
The other difficulty in the case was causation. It was clear that the Claimant would have suffered a number of years abuse regardless of the failings of the Local Authority. The Client’s records had to be carefully considered and specialist medical evidence sought to establish the extent to which the abuse by her step-father had caused or contributed to the Claimant’s ongoing problems and the extent to which she would have suffered such problems in any event because of the number of years abuse she endured before the Local Authority intervened.
This was therefore a complicated case on many levels and a compromise was eventually agreed whereby Client C received £50,000 in damages for what she had suffered as a result of the failings of the Local Authority.
We were also able to secure a written apology for what she had been through. For Client C this was far more important than that damages that she received. Farleys have dealt with various similar cases recently where Local Authorities have been willing to provide a written apology. We often find that this gives the client some closure and is particularly important to consider when concluding this type of claim.
Contact us confidentially…
If you have suffered abuse as a result of negligence of the Local Authority, you may be entitled to make a claim for damages. Contact Farleys’ specialist abuse team to discuss your case in confidence on 0330 134 6430, speak to us confidentially on our online chat below, or get in touch through our online contact form.