Abuse Victims Given Green Light To Sue LAs For Foster Care Failings
The Law Of… Protecting The Most Vulnerable
Overturning two previous judgments, the Supreme Court has delivered a landmark ruling which opens the door for people who were abused by their foster carers to hold the local authority to account.
Peter Garsden, head of the specialist Abuse Claims department at Simpson Millar, welcomes the decision, and says he expects to see a groundswell of cases brought from abuse victims in the wake of this judgment.
The case of Armes v Nottinghamshire County Council concerned a child who was placed in foster care from the age of seven to 18: first with a couple known as Mr and Mrs A between 25 March 1985 and March 1986, and later with Mr and Mrs B between 23 October 1987 and 28 February 1988.
In the first instance, the appellant was physically abused by Mrs A, and later then sexually abused by Mr B. Nottinghamshire County Council has always denied liability for the crimes perpetrated by the two foster carers, despite the fact that it happened under its watch.
Leading abuse lawyer, Peter, welcomes the decision which he calls 'long overdue': "This ground breaking decision finally imposes a legal liability on local authorities for acts of abuse committed by foster parents. This is long overdue and a welcome extension of the law to protect vulnerable children.”
Local Authorities Held Accountable
Peter explains: “Local authorities have for many years argued that they could not be held responsible for the wrong done by foster carer, despite that fact that these are contracted, paid, trained and supervised by them. If abuse was committed by a care worker in a children's home, the local authority would, however, always be held responsible. This is entirely illogical and the Supreme Court has finally recognised that.”
A Chance To Be Heard
Peter, who is also President of the Association of Child Abuse Lawyers, adds:
"For 15 years, we have been turning away cases from people who have been abused in foster care, and the local authorities have continued to escape responsibility. Now we can finally open the door to those people, and let them have their day in court. Without doubt, we will see a ground swell of this type of cases which is only right. Justice is long overdue for those who suffered the most horrendous and crippling abuse as children, under the watch of local authorities."
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