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Supreme Court to hear appeal on liability of local authorities for foster carers

Appeal against judgment in NA v Nottinghamshire County Council [2015] EWCA Civ 1139

The Supreme Court has granted permission for an appeal to be heard against the Court of Appeal's judgment in NA v Nottinghamshire County Council [2015] EWCA Civ 1139 that a local authority was not liable for the abuse perpetrated by foster carers on a child in their care.

The appellant had a dreadful childhood experience. She was born in July 1977 and, from the age of seven, was placed in the care of the local authority. The local authority, Nottinghamshire County Council, in turn, placed her in foster placements with Mr and Mrs A and, subsequently, Mr and Mrs B. Mrs A had physically abused the appellant and Mr B had sexually abused her.

The question for the Court of Appeal was whether the local authority was liable for the abuse of the appellant by her foster carers. She argued that the local authority was liable to her either because it was vicariously liable for the torts of the foster carers or because it owed her a non-delegable duty of care to ensure that she was protected from harm. It was not in issue that the local authority had exercised reasonable care and skill in selecting the appellant's foster placements.

The Court of Appeal unanimously dismissed the appeal. Permission for the appeal to the Supreme Court was granted by Lady Hale and Lords Clarke and Carnwath.

For the judgment in the Court of Appeal and a summary of the judgment, by Eleanor Sibley of Field Court Chambers, click here.

2/6/16